The Cohabitees Act

On the first of January, 1988, Sweden became the first country in the world to pass a cohabitation act for same-sex couples.


The aim of the law was, and still is, to protect the weaker part in the relationship. It can also be considerd as a way to decrease discrimination. Since 2003, the same rules apply to all couples, regardless if it is a same-sex couple or not.

How is a cohabitee relationship defined?

Cohabitees are two unmarried people living together permanently as a couple and have a joint household. Nowadays, whether the partners are of same or opposites sexes is not taken into consideration. In short, there are three criteria which must be fulfilled in order to be proper cohabitees.

  • The partners have to live with each other on a ”permanent basis”. The relationship cannot be of short duration.
  • They have to live together as a couple, typically including sexual relations (though not required).
  • The household must be shared, which means sharing expenses and chores.

This means that, for instance, two roommates or siblings living together are not cohabitees.

Why is the Cohabitees Act needed?

The Cohabitees Act exists to provide a certain level of protection for the weaker partner if the relationship ends. The law regulates the division of household goods and a cohabitee´s right to claim the house or apartment, amongst other things.

What property is affected?

The Cohabitees Act only affects the joint home, its furniture, kitchen equipment, and other household goods. Cars, boats, bank assets, summer houses, shares or other personal means are not covered by the act. Thus, respective cohabitee still owns and keeps those things.

When is a cohabitee relationship ended?

Basically, a cohabitee relationship can end in three ways:

  • One of the partners pass away.
  • Separation.
  • If the cohabitees marry each other, or if one of them marry someone else.