In this blog series, we have discussed the implications of cohabitation and the complications that may accompany the ending of a cohabitation relationship where property is jointly owned. What options exist to help avoid a situation where a cohabitant may be forced to seek contractual remedies after a break up?
One option is to have an attorney draft a cohabitation agreement that sets forth all of the rights of each party, the terms and conditions of what will occur if the relationship ends and identifies the distribution of any shared property the parties have acquired. A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two cohabitants that are in a romantic relationship, but not married. A cohabitation agreement can also address potential future non-financial contributions to the relationship and how those contributions will be recognized after separation.
Furthermore, a cohabitation agreement between people who may intend on getting married someday can lay the groundwork for a future prenuptial agreement. By reducing an agreement to writing, both parties can avoid having to seek other contractual remedies that involve expensive litigation. In addition, a cohabitation agreement can also serve as an express designation that you are not common law married and that you do not intend on becoming common law married.
Another option for cohabitants with, or without an express agreement, is to attend mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation provides couples with the opportunity to settle the division of acquired assets with a neutral third party, without the adversarial process of litigation. Although many cohabitants do not look at their relationship as purely contractual, there are substantial risks to acquiring assets and co-mingling finances with a non-marital partner. You can protect yourself, and your partner from future issues by entering into a cohabitation agreement.
If you are separating from a cohabitating partner, or planning to move in with your partner, GEM Family Law can assist you with drafting a cohabitation or prenuptial agreement. Our seasoned family law attorneys can help you explore what options best suit your needs.
Authored by: Chelsea Augelli, Juris Doctorate Candidate 2019