Family law: Cohabitation agreements

Cohabitation is becoming a more common type of living situation. It’s where unmarried couples live together. What a cohabitation agreement is, is an arrangement of legal documents that can protect the rights of both parties, as well as keeping individual assets and interests safe.

A goal of the cohabitation agreement process is to help prevent future conflicts, since cohabiting unmarried couples could split up at a later date. Unmarried couples don’t have the same protections as married couples do, due to being outside the legal bonds and social institution that is marriage.

So what is the legality behind cohabitation agreements?

Litigation plays a part into it. Unmarried couples have not always had the privilege of getting some marriage protections in the state of non-marriage. Luckily nowadays, there’s a bit of leeway for unmarried couples. As Find Law explains, “after some litigation on the matter it has become fairly well established that there are three legal bases by which non marital agreements can be established”.

The three legal bases are as follows:

  1. Unmarried couples can enter into both written and oral contracts that cover rights normally associated with married couples. One example is acquired property during the relationship.
  2. Unmarried couples can create “implied” non marital agreements even without discussion or any writing.
  3. If no implied agreement exists, the courts can determine that the unmarried couple intended to “deal fairly with one another”. This results in granting the parties right and obligations that are consistent with fairness and equity.

Of course, these legal bases and requirements basically make up a valid contract. The cohabitation agreement of a couple will cover certain aspects of the life of the couple. These aspects include:

  • distribution of property upon death or the ending of the relationship
  • financial support during or after the relationship
  • dividing the principal residence upon death or the ending of the relationship
  • adding the partner’s name to the deed
  • support, custody, or visitation rights for minors
  • heath care insurance responsibility
  • health power of attorneys in the case of each partner’s incapacity

Of course, there is much more to the cohabitation agreement process. Since we are just scratching the surface, the best step from here is to hire an experienced family law attorney. Contact Lafayette family law attorney Taylor Fontenot with any questions you may have on your cohabitation arrangement.