While many people are not familiar with a cohabitation agreement, it is a legal means through which a couple living together can find ways to enjoy the some of the same rights as a married couple without being married. This is important, because a growing percentage of couples are choosing to live together without getting married, and without a legal agreement, a party can be left with nothing if the partnership ends. If you live with a significant other and don’t plan on getting married, a cohabitation agreement could be a great idea. Here’s what this document typically entails.
Basic Contents of a Cohabitation Agreement
Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement allows the parties to determine in advance who keeps specific assets that were acquired before the partnership and what happens to assets that were jointly purchased should the partnership end. It spells out who owns what and in what proportion, and lets you document how you will split your property, personal belongings, savings and other assets. It can also cover how you will support your children if you have any, how you will handle debts, and joint purchases, such as a car.
The cohabitation agreement also addresses how assets and finances are managed while you are together. Tenets of the contract could address how much each partner contributes to rent or mortgage payments and other bills, and whether you’ll take out life insurance policies on each other.
Talk to a Family Law Professional.
Cohabitating partners are not nearly as officially recognized as a married couple. That means that you stand to lose a lot of your investments of time, energy and money should the partnership fall apart. A cohabitation agreement is legally binding as long as it is properly implemented, and to ensure enforceability, both parties should seek independent legal advice on the agreement. If you have a long-term partner with whom you live and share expenses, consult an experienced family law professional to make sure you’re protected. While it may sound unromantic, taking care of financial concerns like these can help put the both of you at ease and help you build a stronger relationship.