If you and your partner have lived together a long time without marriage, you might not have any legal protections for your assets if you split up. Unless you live in a state that recognizes common law marriages, you need to take steps to protect your property and to decide what happens with debts. To help you create a cohabitation agreement that works for both you and your partner, here is what you need to know.
What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?
The cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement between you and your partner in which you determine what happens with your assets in the event that your relationship does not last. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement in some ways.
If you and your partner do decide to get married, you can use the cohabitation agreement to help create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
What Should Your Agreement Include?
Your cohabitation agreement needs to not only take into account what happens with assets that are acquired during the relationship, but what happens with those each person bought into the relationship. For instance, if you own a business, do you plan to keep those assets and debts to yourself or will your partner get a portion of those if you split up?
Other things your cohabitation agreement needs to cover include:
- How bank accounts and insurance policies are handled
- How expenses are paid and who is responsible for making the payments
- Whose names are placed on deeds and other property when bought together
You also need to consider whether or not palimony should be part of your arrangement. Some states do allow for palimony, while others do not. If you live in a state which does not, you can still create an arrangement to pay or receive it. The court can uphold the palimony if both parties agreed to it in the cohabitation agreement.
What Should Not Be In Your Agreement?
Your cohabitation agreement is not a time to decide who is responsible for making relationship specific demands, such as requiring your partner to take you out to dinner once a week. Demands outside of those pertaining to assets and debts are usually not legal or recognizable by the court.
You also cannot include any child custodial or support arrangements in the cohabitation agreement. If you and your partner do have children, you will need to work with a family attorney and the court to create an arrangement after you have split up.
Cohabitation agreements are not unusual, but few people think to get one. If you are interested in protecting yourself and your partner, talk to an attorney, like the Law Office of Kristine A. Michael, P.C., to explore your options.