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What Is A Cohabitation Agreement?

man and woman at bathroom counter

Sometimes, a couple is ready to move in together and chooses not to marry. A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement between the couple that outlines issues that may arise during or after their relationship ends.

What Is Typically Included In A Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement should include anything that you and your partner enjoy jointly in your lives. The agreement should detail the expectations of both parties in the relationship and expectations if the couple breaks up. Each agreement is unique and should cover what pertains specifically to the relationship.

Some of the most common items in a cohabitation agreement include:

The Division of Shared Living Expenses

Your cohabitation agreement should include your shared living expenses like rent payments, utilities, groceries, and other items you enjoy jointly. You might pay the rent, but your partner may pay for utilities and groceries. Adding in how you divide your shared living expenses in your cohabitation agreement sets the standard of how these items will be paid, the value of the payments, who will make the payments, and what should happen if these expenses are not paid.

The Division of Personal Expenses

You may also outline what qualifies as a personal expense and how personal finances will be organized in your agreement. Personal expenses include gym memberships, television subscriptions, shopping money, and other items. Still, often, a couple might not have a conversation about what is considered a personal expense until an issue arises later. Creating a definition of personal expenses in this relationship can limit arguments and problems regarding your expenses.

Financial Support In The Event Of A Break-Up

If one party is a stay-at-home partner or makes substantially less than their partner, it might be necessary to include how you will complete financial support if the relationship fails. This can consist of the amount paid, the timeframe the financial support will be paid, and stipulations for financial support ending early.

This might not be necessary for every relationship, especially if both parties earn similar salaries or have similarly valued incomes.

Child Support In The Event Of A Break-Up

If you choose to have children with your partner during your relationship, you might want to plan for in the case of a break-up — who will have custody of the children, as well as how child support will be paid. By planning for your children now, your cohabitation agreement can limit altercations following a break-up regarding the welfare and care of your children. This can also be used as the base until a future child custody arrangement is completed, which will keep your children secure until the courts rule their updated judgment.

Ownership Of Pets In The Event Of A Break-Up

Couples may adopt pets together while cohabitating. If the couple breaks up, one member will need to claim ownership of the animal for the care and welfare of the animal. It may be necessary for the couple to include what should happen to their pets if they break up and how they will be cared for and supported.

Property Division In The Event Of A Break-Up

Couples may choose to own property jointly during their relationship. In the case of the relationship ending, it is important to have stated what they plan to do with their property following the conclusion of their relationship. Creating a concrete plan can save money and time in litigation or negotiations for property control.

When Does A Cohabitation Agreement Come Into Play?

A cohabitation agreement can be enforced if one party violates the agreement during the relationship or if the couple breaks up. The cohabitation agreement is legally enforceable by the courts if necessary. If you believe your agreement has been violated, contact your family law attorney to address the concern.

How Do I Create A Cohabitation Agreement?

If you and your partner are ready to draft a cohabitation agreement, you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you. Together, you and your partner will outline what is essential financially during your relationship and what will happen if your relationship ends.

If you want to create a cohabitation agreement, call us at (310) 736-2063 today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our cohabitation agreement attorneys.