Whether a couple is heterosexual or homosexual, living together in a romantic relationship and/or sexually intimate relationship without formally registering their relation as a marriage it is called cohabitation. As many boomers are finding out, they may want to cohabitate with a person for the purpose of sharing expenses without a romantic relationship involved. There are many reasons parties may want to commit to live with another person for an extended period of time.
Whenever parties are living together and anticipate doing so for a several year period, we recommend a cohabitation agreement which is a form of a legal agreement for couples who want to live together in order to protect themselves from unnecessary cost and litigation should their relationship dissolve. A cohabitation agreement allows a couple to regulate their property rights and what arrangements might be made for dealing with expenses, caring for each of the parties’ children, funding college for children, paying off debt by one party. Parties are not allowed to agree to custody arrangements in their cohabitation agreement as that arrangement may not be in the best interests of the child.
This agreement also describes each person’s financial obligations and details which party is responsible for outside expenses like maintenance and repairs regarding the home. Cohabitation agreements should set forth the division of chores including when each party will do his laundry, clean the dog run, and expectations such as alcohol consumption, exercise, etc.
Many couples face issues when the home needs a major repair, and this issue was not addressed. A major roof repair could easily cost over $15,000 and if this was not anticipated, a financial issue may arise. If the other party is a joint owner of the home, and cannot afford the repair then a promissory note must be executed by the party without funds with specified monthly payments to the other party.
If the parties do not own the home together, the party who does not own the home acknowledges he or she will receive no interest in the home upon breakup, but will share certain expenses and repairs on the home up to a certain amount.
If one of the parties is buying into the home of the other the terms of purchase will be set forth, and if the parties break up, how that party is compensated for his or her equity in the home at the time of the break up.
Since unmarried couples who live together may one day split up, it makes sense to plan ahead in order to avoid future conflict. A cohabitation agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement leading up to a marriage. A couple who may be planning on getting married can and should consider also signing a cohabitation agreement to protect the time leading up to a marriage especially if there are purchases of personal property and real property so that these assets and the rights and obligations in each of them may be address.
In today’s society it is not uncommon for people to simply live together whether they have been dating for a couple months or a couple of years. Most couples revert back to Common Law, which doesn’t always help in every situation when a relationship ends. It may not apply or may not provide the provisions needed.
Estate planning and a will are other documents that should be put in place in a non-marital situation to help mitigate conflicts within the family should the worst occur. One does not wish to find himself with new partners who are members of your former partner’s family.
For more information on Cohabitation Agreements, call Petroni Law Group at 420-4221.