man and woman on floor with boxes

When a couple gets married they enter into a contract that outlines the legal obligations and rights of both parties. It doesn’t sound very romantic when explained that way, but it is accurate. This contract benefits both parties. But what about couples who do not want to get married? Or platonic partners who plan to live together permanently? A cohabitation agreement is a way for people who aren’t married to ensure their assets and rights are protected. Speak to a Sparta, NJ family law attorney today to begin discussing your options for a cohabitation agreement.

What Do Cohabitation Agreements Do?

Cohabitation agreements operate similarly to a prenuptial agreement or marriage contract. Two people who wish to live together indefinitely can use a cohabitation agreement to establish rules and boundaries about their living arrangements. When two people live together for a long time, whether they are in a romantic relationship or not, their lives are bound to become intertwined. They might share personal property, pets, finances, debts, and more.

A cohabitation agreement allows the pair to establish who is responsible for what, whether financially or otherwise. They can detail how money, bank accounts, property, debts, and more are handled both during the term of their cohabitation and in the event that it ends.

When Should I Consider a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation agreements aren’t necessary for every relationship or roommate you have. If you sign a year-long lease with someone you met through a friend of a friend, you probably don’t need a contract because your lives and assets will likely be kept separate. An agreement like this is more appropriate for a long-term relationship or partnership.

If you and your romantic partner decide to be together forever but do not want to be legally married, you may still buy a house, get a family pet, or even have children together. Likewise, you and a friend may have decided you are compatible roommates and enjoy living together so you choose to co-own a home or plan to live together for years to come. A cohabitation agreement will benefit either of these situations because it will clearly state either party’s rights and responsibilities to certain assets and debts.

What Should I Include in the Contract?

Like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement can include anything you want. The following are generally items that should be included to protect everyone involved.

  • Property: Define joint and separate property in the relationship. If one person bought something is it theirs or is it automatically jointly owned? What about gifts or inheritance?
  • Bills and finances: Outline how you are going to cover expenses. Will one person be responsible for the entirety of the finances? Will rent or a mortgage be split 50/50? Will it be based on a percentage of income?
  • Separation: Whether you are in a romantic or platonic relationship, you may eventually decide to cut ties. Outline what will happen if you separate. Who will get what assets? How will child or pet custody be handled?

There are many important factors to consider when drawing up a cohabitation agreement so speak with your partner and an attorney to determine what will best suit your situation.