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The Power of Cohabitation Agreements

  • Protection for Unmarried Couples: Cohabitation agreements protect common-law partners by defining property and debt division upon separation.
  • Terms and Provisions: Agreements can include terms on bill payments and spousal support but should not include child custody or parenting time provisions.
  • Legal Advice: Though not required, legal advice ensures understanding and compliance with legal requirements for a binding agreement.
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Protect Your Relationship

It’s no secret that marriage has become less popular over the past few decades. Many people choose not to get married for various reasons, including the rising costs of weddings or viewing the concept of marriage as pointless. Regardless of your reason for not marrying, it’s important to know how you and your partner can protect yourselves during your relationship and in the event that you separate.

The Role of Cohabitation Agreements

If you and your partner plan to reside together, it may be a good idea to have a cohabitation agreement drafted before or while you’re living together. These agreements are very similar to marriage contracts, with the main difference being that common-law partners and unmarried couples can be parties to the agreement. If you and your partner choose to wed, your cohabitation agreement will automatically be considered a marriage contract unless you include a provision that states otherwise.

Property and Debt Division

Just like with marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements can determine how property and debts will be divided upon separation. When married couples separate, they are subject to the equalization process absent a marriage contract. The equalization process results in the spouse with a higher net worth compensating the lower net worth spouse with half the difference in the spouses’ increase in net worth during the time of their marriage. However, the equalization process does not apply to common-law couples. Instead, unmarried couples are entitled to maintain full possession of the property they purchased in their own name.

Terms and Provisions in Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation agreements can also include terms that you and your partner agree to abide by while you’re in a relationship, such as which partner pays certain bills. Further, the agreement may include provisions relating to spousal support. It is important to note, however, that cohabitation agreements should not include any terms relating to decision-making responsibility or parenting time. When making decisions regarding such matters, the court will only take into account the child’s best interests.

Legal Requirements and Advice

Though you are not legally required to seek advice from lawyers before you enter a cohabitation agreement, it is important to understand what you are signing. Lawyers can aid in the negotiating and drafting of the terms of the cohabitation agreement as well as ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of all provisions. Additionally, the cohabitation agreement must be in writing, signed by each partner, dated, and signed by witnesses in order to be held legally binding.

Seeking Professional Help

If you think a cohabitation agreement may be right for you, look no further. Our team has the expertise and skill necessary to meet your needs. Please contact us to book a consultation.