What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

couple sitting on couch

In today’s society, attitudes have shifted significantly toward unmarried couples cohabitating. There is now much greater acceptance of this lifestyle choice than in the past. Nevertheless, despite this welcome shift in societal attitudes, many individuals are unaware of the rights they forfeit by not participating in a legally binding union. People often don’t realize that marriage is a legal contract defining each party’s rights and obligations to the other. Without this legal contract, in the event of one party’s death, the surviving partner would have no legal rights. Therefore, considering creating a cohabitation agreement is in your best interest. If the relationship ends, this arrangement will enforce certain rights and obligations typically conferred upon marriage. If you are considering creating a cohabitation agreement, you should connect with an adept Pensacola Family Law Attorney who can help you obtain this legal protection.

How Does a Cohabitation Agreement Work?

Similarly to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement outlines what happens when a relationship ends. This includes property division, child custody, child support, etc. It also outlines how unmarried couples wish to share the rights and responsibilities of living together. Essentially, this agreement can offer both parties peace of mind as you can establish expectations about financial support. This agreement is more appropriate for long-term relationships as you can expect significant money, property, and debt to accumulate over time. As long as your cohabitation agreement meets the legal requirements in your state, you may ask the court to enforce the contract if your ex-partner refuses to do what they have agreed to do in the contract.

What Should a Cohabitation Agreement Cover?

A cohabitation contract must cover every aspect of your relationship to ensure it outlines each party’s wishes. It’s essential to define how to treat property acquired during the relationship. While some unmarried couples who live together keep their finances separate, others share costs. Many people like to keep the items they receive before entering the relationship as separate property. To ensure your separate property remains yours, write it down so there’s no confusion over ownership. In addition, property acquired by gift or inheritance should also be written down as separate property to mitigate the risks of conflict.

Moreover, it would be best to cover how you will be expected to handle expenses. This is usually a contentious issue. You may split your costs 50/50, make them proportional to income, or pool your resources into one account to pay jointly. Regardless of the decision, it would be best if you dictated each party’s financial responsibilities. Child custody and child support can also be addressed. You can include provisions regarding who will receive custody of the children and how much child support should be paid. It’s essential to remember that state laws govern child custody and support. This means they will focus on the child’s best interests, so these provisions may not be enforced.

With the increasing diversity in relationships today, a cohabitation agreement can help clarify issues and avoid problems. At The Law Office of James M. Burns, we can help you protect your rights and future by drafting a cohabitation agreement. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.