Do I need a Cohabitation Agreement?

Making the decision to move in with a significant other is an exciting milestone in any relationship. While choosing where to live, furnishing your home and discussing differences in decorating aesthetics might be at the forefront of your mind, if you are not married there are a few legal considerations to make before signing a new deed.

Non-married couples do not enjoy the same legal rights and protections as married couples. As a married couple all assets, such as a home, purchased during the marriage are marital property and if the couple divorces both parties have legal rights to receive equitable portions of the marital property. However, if a couple is not married and makes purchases together including a home and its contents (such as furniture or electronics) there are no legal protections in place to determine who receives what property in the event that the couple separates. After a separation, if an unmarried couple is unable to agree on the division of joint property, it may be necessary to litigate the disagreement and have a court decide, which can be time consuming and costly.

Why is A Cohabitation Agreement Important?

To avoid the potential need for litigation, a Cohabitation Agreement can be drafted. A Cohabitation Agreement allows the couple to mutually agree prior to moving in together what their co-mingling of personal finances and purchase of assets will look like. The couple can choose how the mortgage, utilities and other living expenses will be paid, who will receive what property and how any jointly acquired debt will be paid in the event of separation. A Cohabitation Agreement can also include other joint assets such as a vehicle or joint bank account.

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