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Thinking About Cohabitation Agreements? Read This!

Cohabitation Agreements


Cohabitation agreements are utilized by couples that live together but are not married. Since many states offer no legal recognition of the rights and responsibilities of couples that cohabit in the absence of marriage


Since many states fail to recognize the rights of couples that cohabit in the absence of marriage, many couples enter into agreements that confer some rights on their relationship. Cohabitation agreements are utilized to protect couples from an unfair distribution of assets and property, both during the relationship and in the event that it ends, whether due to separation or the death of one partner. In addition, agreements can describe individual financial and household responsibilities throughout the length of the relationship. Also, agreements can assign debt to one or both individuals. For instance, one partner may agree to pay for the other to go to college but expect to be paid back over time. A cohabitation agreement would protect the partner that loaned the money. In the absence of some form of written agreement, the partner that loaned the money, may have no legal recourse to collect monies owed. In addition, agreements can protect partners' rights in regards to decision making abilities about their partner's health care, organ donation and funeral. Also, some states convert cohabitation into common law marriage.

Legal Basis:

While some states offer no legal recognition for the relationship of couples that reside together in the absence of marriage, the couple's rights may still be assigned and protected through a cohabitation agreement. In addition, clauses within an agreement, can sometimes override a state's cohabitation laws. For example, state laws may dictate an equal distribution of property in the event of a separation, but couples my not desire that outcome. Perhaps one partner is significantly more wealthy than the other and they wish to maintain separate property rights. Cohabitation agreements allow couples to either maintain separate property, or to own all assets jointly. The agreement will also dictate the distribution of that property in the event of a separation, or death of one partner. In addition, some state's laws do not allow couples to automatically become health care proxies for their partner. However, partners can legally acquire those rights through cohabitation agreements. In fact, partners can acquire the ability to visit in the hospital, make health care decisions including organ donation, and the ability to make funeral arrangements. However, couples should seek legal representation to be sure that their agreements follows all applicable laws, thereby increasing the chance that the agreement will be upheld by the courts.

What they Cover:

Cohabitation agreements can dictate distribution of assets and property in the event that a couple separates. In addition, it can make allowances for partners to maintain individual property throughout the relationships and in the event of a separation. Agreements can also cover household and financial responsibilities throughout the relationship. In fact, couples can assign certain chores to one another, thereby avoiding arguments about such things during the cohabitation. Couples can also assign their partners the ability to make all health care decisions in the event that they become incapacitated. In the absence of the agreement, couples may be unable to visit each other in the hospital, dictate health care decisions, make organ donations on behalf of their partner, or plan funerals. Also, cohabitation agreements allow couples to take part in estate planning.


Couples that wish to enter into any legally binding agreement should seek the advice of an attorney. First, legal contracts can be complicated and should adhere to all applicable state and federal laws. In addition, individuals will want to be sure that their interests are taken into account when the agreement is written. Besides that, couples will want to be assured that the document will be upheld by the courts should it become necessary. In addition, lawyers will ensure that all laws were followed while the document was created. For instance, the document must be created in the absence of fraudFamily lawyers

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