Marriage is a contractual agreement that involves the comingling of a couple’s financial life going forward. However, when a couple chooses to move in together or take a major financial step together, like buying a house together, signing a lease together, or living together, if the couple is not married, it can be helpful to have a cohabitation agreement in place that protects the rights of both parties, and makes clear each party’s responsibilities.
As more couples choose to move in together before they get married, more couples who choose to take this big step sign cohabitation agreements, or living together agreements. These agreements can include details, like how will rent or mortgage payments be split, each party’s responsibility regarding bills, and ownership of property (especially if one party owns a home or car) and the other party contributes payments. Do you need a cohabitation agreement in Yuma, Arizona? Schneider & Onofry, P.C. is a family law firm in Yuma, Arizona that may be able to review your situation and assist you with this type of agreement if you plan to cohabitate or make a major purchase with your partner and you are unmarried.
How a Cohabitation Agreement Can Protect You
A cohabitation agreement can include some important protections. For example, if you rent an apartment, do you know who will continue to live in the apartment should you split up? If you plan to live together, will one or both of you sign the lease? The person whose name is on the lease may ultimately have the right to stay in the apartment if your relationship breaks up, unless there is a cohabitation agreement in place that specifies otherwise.
If you plan to purchase a home with your partner or purchase a car with your partner, a cohabitation agreement can outline each party’s rights should the relationship break up. It can make clear each party’s contribution to shared assets and each party’s rights to shared assets. If you move in with a partner who owns a home, and contribute to the mortgage, you may ultimately have no rights to the home if you break up down the line. A cohabitation agreement can make clear where each party stands in regards to separate and shared assets, so there is no confusion going forward.
If you and your partner get a pet, without a clear agreement in place, if you break up, it might not be clear who will keep the pet or where the pet will reside. A cohabitation agreement can also protect you if you are bringing a pet into the relationship who will reside with the both of you. Disputes regarding pet ownership can get messy. Pets are often treated like property in courts, so if only one of you is listed on the adoption or purchase forms, the party whose name is on these forms may be the only one with rights to keep the pet, unless another agreement has been put in writing. A contract can clarify how these disputes might be resolved if you and your partner split up.
Finally, if there is an income disparity between you and your partner, a cohabitation agreement can make clear your expectations. For example, one partner might not always contribute the same amount of money for rent, but may still have the same rights to live in the home. And some cohabitation agreements take into account the future needs of both parties, and answer tough questions about what will happen to assets should one partner die.
Planning to live together, but aren’t married? Have questions about your rights and risks? Schneider & Onofry, P.C. is a family law firm in Yuma, Arizona that may be able to assist you. When drafting a cohabitation agreement, each party should have his or her own lawyer. This ensures that the contract is fair for both parties and considers the needs of both parties. This also makes the cohabitation agreement even stronger should it ever need to be taken to court, because both parties had the ability to have it reviewed by independent counsel.
Have questions about a cohabitation agreement? Need help drafting a cohabitation agreement? Schneider & Onofry, P.C. is a family law firm in Yuma, Arizona that may be able to help you. Contact us today to learn more.