She’s Barbie & he’s just Ken – so get a cohabitation agreement!

It seems like everyone is talking about the Barbie movie at the moment in light of several important issues which are raised in the film’s plot. However, one key issue which isn’t touched upon is the fact that, as the film progresses, Barbie and Ken live together as cohabitants.

Within this fictional relationship, Barbie is a high earner, with a number of large assets including her very own “dream house”. Conversely, Ken is not a co-owner nor does he contribute financially to the property.

The current position in England & Wales is that, as cohabitants, Barbie and Ken would have no legal status as a cohabiting couple, meaning they have no legal rights or responsibilities to one another, leaving Ken vulnerable in the event their relationship breakdown.

Now this may seem very flippant, however, according to an Office of National Statistics survey as of 2021 there were 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the United Kingdom. This is an increase of 144% from 1.5 million couples in 1996. According to a House of Commons research briefing in November 2022, cohabitants make up 22% of couples who live together, with marriage continuing to be in decline. It is therefore absolutely imperative that cohabiting couples consider taking steps to protect themselves in the event their relationship comes to an end.

A cohabitation agreement is a contractual document which, if properly drafted and executed by a family lawyer, would provide clarity for cohabiting couples setting out arrangements clearly for finances and property to apply during the course of a relationship and in the event of a relationship breakdown. As long as this document is entered into freely, is fair and both couples have had full financial disclosure, the parties will likely be held to its terms.

So, if you don’t want to be like Ken, please contact managing associate, Catherine Lowther, by telephone at 0191 384 2441 or by email at

This article is for general information only.  It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published and we would always recommend that you seek specific advice on any particular legal issue.

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