What’s a Cohabitation Agreement?

man and woman taping up boxes

Marriage can be a beautiful thing. It is the joining of two people as one in a lifelong commitment. However, it also relies on a contractual agreement that establishes the rights and obligations of either party. Some couples may want to spend their lives together but for moral or other reasons do not believe in the concept of marriage. A platonic relationship may also stand the test of time. What if they want to live together forever? Unmarried couples live together all the time, but they do not have a legal obligation to one another. With the use of a cohabitation agreement, they can establish the details of their relationship and responsibilities. Read on and speak with a Memphis, Tennessee family law agreement attorney about your cohabitation rights.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two or more people who live together but are not married. Without a marriage contract, there is nothing legally binding the two people together. However, after living together for an extensive period, boundary lines can blur. You may choose to enter into a cohabitation agreement if you and your romantic partner want to establish legal rights and responsibilities to each other without getting married. You may also live with a platonic partner or friend and know that you want to live together indefinitely. Simply living together does not mean that a pair has any legal rights to one another’s property or responsibilities to one another. The cohabitation agreement will change that.

Cohabitation agreements are beneficial if any of the following are true about you and your partner.

  • You want to buy or have bought property together
  • You want to co-sign on a loan
  • You want to open a joint bank account
  • You share living expenses
  • You want to take out a joint credit card

What Should I Include in My Cohabitation Agreement?

Some states recognize oral or even implied agreements between unmarried couples, but it is beneficial to get your cohabitation agreement in writing to avoid any future conflict. You and your partner can include anything you want in your cohabitation agreement, given that you both agree. It can be an individualized contract that is customized to your unique needs.

Some issues that are generally included in a cohabitation agreement are as follows.

  • How the couple will handle property ownership when property is brought into the relationship, bought, or inherited
  • How household expenses will be covered
  • If and how they plan on combining finances
  • Each partner’s household and other contributions to the relationship
  • What will happen to their residence and property if the couple separates
  • If one partner will have a financial support responsibility to the other if they separate

Depending on the nature of the relationship the above considerations will vary from couple to couple. For example, a romantic couple may choose to combine all of their finances into joint accounts while a platonic pair may choose to keep their finances separate or combine only a portion. Child custody or pet custody may or may not be a factor. In general, the agreement should be as detailed as possible to avoid confusion or disputes down the road.