Cohabitation Agreements

Moving in with someone you love is a happy and exciting time. Few people think about entering a contract with the partner they love and trust. Unfortunately though, cohabitation comes with a number of risks.

There are many ways cohabitation is similar to marriage, with one major caveat: legal rights.

Absent an agreement, unmarried couples have no legal rights if disputes occur or the relationship ends. Often, one partner gives up their separate home to move into the home of their significant other. Legally, this person has no entitlement to live in that home-even if they have sold their own house before moving in or they have contributed to improvements of the other home. Disputes can be even more heart-wrenching when a child is involved. You may develop a close, parental relationship with your partner’s child-but have no legal rights to visitation if your relationship ends.

The good news is there are relatively painless ways to address these concerns, long before a dispute ever arises. Sometimes, just the process of entering a mutual agreement with your partner helps you avoid disputes that may otherwise occur. This means that Cohabitation Agreements aren’t only for couples who anticipate a split in their future.

These agreements are for couples who mutually respect one another and value clear communication of expectations. Because living with someone is a big commitment and it’s worth taking the time to plan for anything that could happen in the future.

If you are considering or have recently moved in with your partner, read on for more information about Cohabitation Agreements and how they can help strengthen your relationship.


What are Cohabitation Agreements?

Cohabitation Agreements are a contract between two parties that will be (or are already) living together. This often applies to couples who are not married. More specifically, these types of contracts detail the responsibilities of each party with respect to certain aspects of living together.

These agreements may cover issues such as: who will pay certain bills, who will take care of child support, who retains assets if a separation occurs, and more. The contract protects both parties from disputes in the future, especially if the cohabitation does not work out.

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract, so it is important to consider all of the details that may need to be included in the agreement before it is signed. In addition to the basic aspects of cohabitation, couples should consider any personal assets or transactions they would like to include in the contract.

What are the Benefits?

There are a number of benefits to creating a Cohabitation agreement:

  • Reduce conflicts that may occur during cohabitation (e.g. who will be responsible for what bills?)
  • Clarify each party’s entitlement to specified property and/or assets. For instance, if you sell your home to move into a home your partner owns, what will happen if the relationship ends? Are you simply “out on the street” without options? You can address these contingencies with a clear agreement.
  • Reduce the risks associated with a breakup by sorting your affairs beforehand. When you are able to agree on each party’s rights and responsibilities from a place of mutual respect, both parties benefit substantially. Cohabitation agreements are a much fairer way of resolving potential problems than litigating after things turn sour (if ever).
  • Protect yourself (and any shared children) financially. These agreements could save you money in the long-run!

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