Prenups for Couples Not Marrying?: Cohabitation Agreements

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

More and more couples are choosing to live together and not get married. Not marrying may seem like it’s simpler. But legally, it is more complicated because you don’t have any legal protection. Fortunately, there is an agreement for that.

I’ve written about cohabitation many times. Living together and having children is becoming more common than ever before. Between 2006 and 2010, nearly half of heterosexual women said they were not married to their spouse or partner when they first lived with them, the report says. That’s up from 43 percent in 2002, and 34 percent in 1995.

There are a lot of reasons why couples choose to live together rather than get married. One factor that is likely considered is fear of a stressful and expensive divorce.

However, while cohabitating couples may think they are simplifying their lives, they miss out on many legal protections of that married couples have.

Some of the protections that cohabitating couples lose out on are the protections provided by divorce laws: the presumption that the father is the father, inheritance laws, survivor’s benefits and many others.

A cohabitating couple that decided to split up may encounter the same conflicts about dividing the house, splitting the joint bank accounts, paying off the joint loans timesharing and child support that married couples have. However, the laws are not the same.

One way cohabitating couples can remedy this oversight is to create the missing legal rights for themselves, by drafting a cohabitation agreement. Just like a prenuptial agreements, a cohabitation agreement is a written legal document reached between a couple who have chosen to live together but are not legally married.

An agreement can help a couple against expensive litigation should their relationship end. Agreements can provide for property divisions and inheritance rights and level the playing field with married couples.

Cohabitation agreements can address:

– Support payments

– Selling or keeping the jointly owned home

– What to do with jointly owned property if someone dies

– Medical decisions

– Who pays household bills and taxes

Agreements are useful in resolving a big oversight in the law. This is especially important as more and more couples choose to live together rather than marry.