25 Jan Cohabitation Agreements | Cohabitation Agreements Between Unmarried Couples
Table Of Content:
- Separate their financial expectations and their obligations to one another.
- The courts enforce most property agreements between unmarried cohabitants.
This article is about cohabitation agreements. Many unmarried couples who live together never think about, let alone prepare and sign, a written agreement outlining their rights and responsibilities. Cohabitation Agreements are the most common type of agreement.
When unmarried couples move in together, they each have their own set of financial expectations and obligations to each other. One partner may anticipate each retaining their separate property, and neither will be obligated to support the other. The other partner may believe the exact opposite. If they break up, the conflicting expectations can cause tremendous distress and unhappiness in both partners’ lives.
For example, suppose one partner is significantly wealthier than the other, and the relationship ends. In that case, the other partner may serve them with a lawsuit for palimony, claiming that the other partner promised to support them for life or claiming that all property acquired during the relationship would belong to both partners equally.
Suppose there is no Cohabitation Agreement governing their rights and obligations. In that case, the wealthier partner may be forced to divide their property with the other partner and pay support, even if the desire to avoid these obligations was why they did not marry their partner in the first place.
As another example, one partner may have quit their job to build a home for their partner, who in turn promised that they would always be taken care of, only to discover when the relationship ends that all of the assets acquired together are in the name of the other partner. The other partner denies ever making any promises to their partner.
Implied, oral, and written agreements are all possible. While not always perfect, written agreements signed by both parties are far superior to oral and implied agreements to provide the parties with some measure of certainty. Having a written document ensures that the terms of the agreement are determined by both partners rather than a future jury. They also allow each partner to communicate and clarify their expectations.
To avoid misunderstandings, both partners should discuss their financial expectations before moving in together, as they may discover that they have very different understandings of what their understanding truly is.
After both partners have discussed the issues and reached a mutual understanding, they should agree in writing. Even a written agreement drafted by both partners is preferable to nothing.