More and more people are choosing to cohabitate either prior to marriage or in lieu of marriage. This can lead to a number of property issues should the couple choose to separate. While cohabitation does not expose you to some of the liabilities of marriage, it does not provide any protections either. One way to avoid any potential conflict is to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement.

Before you agree to cohabitate with a romantic partner, there are a number of things you should think about, such as:

  • Who will be responsible for paying what bills?
  • If you contribute to your partner’s mortgage should you be entitled to a portion of the equity?
  • If you pay for repairs on your partner’s home, should you be entitled to any credit?
  • If you purchase furniture together, who gets the furniture and more importantly who is responsible for any debt on the furniture?
  • If you adopt a pet together, who is financially responsible for the pet’s needs and who will keep the pet should the relationship end?
  • Who will pay and retain any deposits paid toward utilities or rent?
  • If the relationship ends, who retains the lease?

A cohabitation agreement can address these issues in a legally binding contract. For example, if one partner agrees to move across the country for the other partner’s job opportunity, should that partner be compensated in some way? Perhaps that partner should be given a moving credit should the relationship end to help finance their move back home.

These are questions that should be dealt with before you cohabitate as you are unlikely to come to an agreement on these issues after the relationship has ended. Perhaps your relationship is on the rocks and your partner would like you to give it one last try? A cohabitation agreement might be a good idea. You could agree to give the relationship another try if your partner agrees to negotiate terms that would provide for a speedy and amicable separation.

If you have questions about how cohabitation might impact you, contact an experienced family law attorney.

The information in this article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction.  Please seek appropriate counsel for your own situation.  The inclusion of links to outside resources is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended as an endorsement by this Firm.