Cohabitation Agreements: Can Unmarried Couples’ Rights Be Protected?

Cohabitation Agreements: Can Unmarried Couples' Rights Be Protected?

I have spoken at length, both here and elsewhere, on the need for a prenuptial agreement to provide a solid groundwork for a healthy marriage. Even if there are many couples who are interested in the advantages that may be obtained via the use of a prenuptial agreement, there is also a growing number of couples who opt to live together for the long term without being married. 

Even though they could not be married, these couples often seek the same or very comparable protections that can be obtained via a prenuptial agreement. While there are certain advantages and safeguards that can only be obtained via marriage, there are other concerns that may be resolved through the use of a written contract.

Similar to prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreement seek to protect both couples in the event of a breakup. If this occurs without a cohabitation agreement, one spouse may be left with more debt or obligations. Even while state laws protecting unmarried couples’ rights differ, cohabitation agreements may provide some protection and benefits regardless of location (Kentucky, for instance, does not recognize common-law marriage). A few benefits of cohabitation agreements are listed below.

Describe the financial duties and obligations of each party. The distinction between each person’s money and obligations may sometimes or inconsistently be blurred, as is often the case while living with someone. The parties to a cohabitation agreement may decide to specify how financial responsibilities for the home will be divided in the document (or related expenses such as utilities).

Determine who is entitled to own the house and its fittings. A written agreement that is backed by the way the property’s title is held should be used to formally explain ownership rights and obligations if you are buying a home jointly. Move into a house that your partner owns. Unless there is a written agreement signed and acknowledged with the requisite formalities for a title to be registered, you will not have legal ownership of the property, regardless of any payments made to the mortgage or associated expenditures. In cohabitation agreements, parties may specify ownership interests and entitlements so that, in the event of a separation, each party’s rights are apparent if one person contributes his or her separate property to the purchase or capital upgrades. It is typical for groups to acquire items and split costs associated with electronics, appliances, or furnishings.

This may sometimes cause problems after a breakup. An arrangement for how these things will be divided in the event of a separation may be found in a cohabitation agreement. If the parties can agree on a price, the agreement may also lay out a strategy for one party to have the first option to buy the products from the other. On objects of personal property, this may be difficult, but it can provide a possibility. Another possibility is to sell the property and divide the revenues in a predetermined way or to alternate the decision for any contested things following a coin throw for the first selection.

Reduce probable disputes when cohabiting. The advantages listed above are advantageous not just after couples separate but also while they are still dating and cohabiting. For instance, having a clear understanding of how rent/mortgage and utilities are shared helps ease tension since all parties are aware of their respective responsibilities. Cohabitation agreements may also include “lighter” subjects like quiet hours, general rules for overnight visitors (like relatives or kids from a previous relationship), etc. 

The agreement may specify specific hours of the day as “quiet hours” to provide the chance for relaxation if one partner has a job with demanding hours or obligations. The parties may also wish to include expectations and rules for having overnight visitors, such as how many nights at a time are permitted, who is in charge of cleaning the house in front of the visitor, etc. These common issues may help the parties establish a respectful and frank connection.

An agreement for cohabitation is comparable to a prenuptial agreement. Functions most effectively when uniquely crafted for the individuals seeking the agreement. It will be easier to come to a long-lasting agreement that serves the interests of all parties involved if they can discuss expectations and rules in an open and honest manner. To ensure that the cohabitation agreement can be legally upheld, it should be drafted by a seasoned legal professional, just like any other kind of contract.