If you are living with someone or plan to live with someone, but you explicitly agree not to be married, you don’t have a lot of legal protection. Unless you choose to be bound by state or federal laws regarding common law marriages or become legally married, the only way to ensure you have some protections, as well as legal rights and obligations to one another, is with a cohabitation agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is a written contract that unmarried couples use when they live together. It describes property rights and financial obligations as well as family obligations during the course of the relationship and what happens if the relationship ends. These agreements describe things like how you and your partner will pay for daily finances during the course of your relationship, including how you divide things like bills and rent, or how you will divide property like personal savings accounts and assets if the relationship ends.
There are many differences between cohabitation and marriage. One of the biggest differences is that marriage is a legal contract binding the parties together and which must be legally dissolved if the parties no longer wish to be married. It requires a written contract. By comparison, cohabitation can happen between two individuals regardless of any relationship they might have. You can terminate cohabitation without involving the law in most cases. You don’t have as many rights for health decisions, division of property, alimony, paternity, child support, and other items with cohabitation as compared to marriage.
|You can cohabitate with anyone.||You have to fulfill state requirements for marriage, often including a ceremony with witnesses, marriage license, and age requirements.|
|You can informally and inexpensively terminate cohabitation.||Terminating marriage requires a legal separation in some states prior to a divorce, followed by a lot of legal paperwork.|
|You can divide property if you have a cohabitation agreement.||There are strong legal protections for the division of property based on state laws.|
|Relatives are allowed to make important health decisions, not cohabitation partners.||Spouses have legal authority over health decisions.|
|Partners do receive an inheritance from a spouse unless a will says so.||Spouses automatically get an inheritance when a spouse passes away, in most states.|
|Fathers must prove their paternity in cohabitation.||Fathers have paternity rights by default in a marriage.|
|Fathers are not required to provide child support unless they prove paternity, and it is required.||Fathers are required to provide child support during the marriage by default.|
|Non-custodial parents are not required to continue supporting children from those with whom they cohabitate unless paternity is proven.||Non-custodial parents are legally obligated to support children even if the marriage is terminated.|
Cohabitation agreements do not have the same legal protections as marriage licenses. If you are an unmarried couple and you want a cohabitation agreement, you can still provide legal protection for each other if you clearly state in the agreement what property is separate and what property is joint. You can list that existing property and future property acquired through certain means will remain separate. You can also explain how a joint property will be divided during the time you live together and how it will be divided if you break up. Some couples purchase property together, but both names have to be on the deed if you want to receive the property in the event that the other spouse dies or you break up.
A cohabitation agreement can also outline the financial responsibilities and rights in the relationship. You can explain how financial assets will be distributed, how expenses and income will be handled, and how a joint account or credit card can be used. You can even list your partner as a beneficiary if you include terms regarding financial support in your cohabitation agreement. You can also include what is called palimony, or spousal support for unmarried couples. There are certain states like California which allow you to pursue palimony in court even if you didn’t list it in an agreement.
You should consider using a cohabitation agreement if you live in one of the following states:
There can be many different consequences of not using a cohabitation agreement. Living together by itself is not a contractual agreement which means it doesn’t give you certain property rights if one of you passes away unexpectedly or you break up. If you don’t have a cohabitation agreement, it can be difficult to make joint purchases together and to deal with income, assets, and debt when you break up.
You can always modify a cohabitation agreement sample to include information on any purchases for property or what to do with interest from a joint bank account.
In the end, no matter what you include in your cohabitation form PDF, both parties need to sign it before it is legally binding. Living together contract template can help you to streamline the process of signing the agreement.
So, what should your cohabitation agreement include? Included in a cohabitation agreement should be the who, the what, the where, the when, the why, and the how. This means you need to include the information about the people involved, when the agreement goes into effect, what it’s for, under what circumstances it applies, and the results if the relationship terminates.
Here is where you include the names of both parties. Someone is designated as “First Party” and the other, “Second Party”.
You must include the date on which the agreement is entered into and the state in which the document is to be applied.
Now you must list the purpose of the cohabitation agreement. This should indicate whether the purpose of the cohabitation agreement is for a couple who already lives together or a couple who plans to live together, with no current intention or agreement to get married.
You must specify the circumstances of the couple, which can come from the living together contract temple. This includes listing whether each party has children, and what their respective names and ages are.
It also includes sections that explain the purpose of this contract is to establish rights and responsibilities regarding income and property that each party currently has and may acquire later.
It’s very important that you decide on a date when your agreement will come into effect. You already noted whether this agreement was for future plans to live together or for a couple who already lives together, but either way, you need to have a start date. You can also include language that says if you do not live together by the start date, this agreement is unenforceable and a new agreement will be drafted.
In this section, you must include a disclosure, where both parties agree that they have legally disclosed all of their financial liabilities and assets, and they both sign that they have received full disclosure from each other and provided full disclosure to one another.
In the legal representation section you might include language acknowledging that each party is allowed to consult with a lawyer during the preparation of this agreement and that they can also forgo a legal consultation with an attorney. This section should include language that both parties are entering into the agreement voluntarily.
Here is where you list whether or not each party owns any separate property or not. If they do, you must list it. You can also have a section that determines whether any acquired property such as a gift, inheritance, or income after this agreement goes into effect is not subject to division if the relationship is terminated.
After that, you can include a section for shared property stipulating whether the two parties have shared property or not, and if they do, give a description of it.
In this area you need to talk about what happens in the event the relationship dissolves, and what percentage of any the first party is entitled to with regard to the property of the second party, and vice versa.
In this section, you should stipulate whether each party has any debt, whether separately or together, and list it if they do. You can also include sections that determine whether or not separate debt or shared debt is the responsibility of the other party during the course of the relationship, if the relationship dissolves, or in the event of death.
When you discuss what obligations any of the parties have to the other party’s children. You might have a section stating that they can voluntarily pay for the expenses of children from the other party or not cover any expenses at all. Similarly, you can establish whether or not it’s expected that the parties will maintain a parent-child relationship with the other party’s children upon separation.
Finally, you can include a section that talks about whether in the event of a separation or death, a claim will be made for support by the remaining party.
Your cohabitation agreement should include other things that you find relevant to your circumstances. If, for example, you have joint bank accounts or you want to specify how the living expenses are divided, you can include another section even if you are using a cohabitation agreement template free of charge.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Upon termination, assets that you acquired after the agreement was signed typically get sold with all of the proceeds divided equally between the partners unless you specify otherwise in your agreement. Any joint debt you have has to be arranged so that both parties repay equal amounts to the lender, again, unless otherwise specified in your agreement. Any separate property and income remain under the ownership of the respective party. Any remaining personal debt that is not shared between the two parties is a liability for the person who has the debt.
If you have entered into a cohabitation agreement and you don't want to have it anymore or you want to get rid of the one you have in order to provide a new one, there are different ways you can terminate your agreement. If you get married and you are no longer considered unmarried partners, you can terminate the agreement. If you enter into a common-law marriage or civil marriage, you can also terminate the agreement. If both parties agree to remove the legal documents into which they have previously entered, you can terminate the agreement as well. Usually, if partners have a child together or adopt a child, or one partner dies, these agreements are terminated.
This depends on where you live. Usually, it is strongly recommended that you get independent legal advice and if you don't, you have to acknowledge in the agreement that you had the opportunity but declined it.