A Cohabitation Agreement is a set of rules created by a couple who are living together but have chosen not to marry or to register as domestic partners (which brings about the same legal rights and obligations as marriage—registered domestic partners are treated as spouses for all purposes). Even though not legally bound to one another, they may want to organize and structure their financial arrangements for the duration of their relationship and for defining what would happen if they ultimately separate.
Since a Cohabitation Agreement does not contemplate marriage and is not entered into during the marriage, it is governed by basic Contract Law rather than Family Law. There are no fiduciary duties involved, but a valid contract also requires that both parties freely, voluntarily and intelligently sign the agreement.
Couples in a Committed Relationship
Couples may be in a committed relationship but for one reason or another choose not to marry. Perhaps one of the parties is in debt, or needs extensive medical care, or it may simply be a daunting psychological commitment for one or both of them. Perhaps one of the parties is legally married to another person, and either is not able to be divorced for religious reasons or the divorce itself is taking an inordinate amount of time to complete. Some couples, while they may have no legal property or spousal support rights, may want to acknowledge their committed relationship by defining their financial responsibilities to one another, by allocating what might otherwise be separate property to the other, or by providing financial assistance for the other person in the event of a separation. Some couples may be in a committed relationship but simply want to avoid any financial entanglement, property rights or support obligations that might conceivably be attributed to their cohabitation.
Couples in a Purely Financial Arrangement
Other couples may be simply “room-mates” living together for purely financial reasons, who are not emotionally committed to one another, but want to set out their respective responsibilities for their expenses and ensure that their separate property assets and income are protected.
If you are interested in mediation to help you create a Cohabitation Agreement, our professionals are trained to make this a productive and positive process for you and the person you are or plan to live with . To learn more, contact any of these professionals, who would be pleased to discuss the various forms of mediation, how they work, and which might be right process for you