According to jdsupra.com, more and more couples are living together without being married. There was a 13 percent increase in such arrangements between 2009 and 2010 alone. At the same time, only 51 percent of all adults are getting married. This is a record low.
Couples choose to cohabitate instead of marry for many reasons. A reported 60 percent of married couples live together before marriage. Many couples live together because same-sex marriage is not recognized in their home state. Older widowed or divorced people live together without marrying in order to preserve their estates. Some couples choose cohabitation because of moral or philosophical beliefs, while other couples do so to save money.
A cohabitation agreement is a private contract between long-term cohabitants. It establishes the rights and obligations that married people obtain by law, custom and agreement. Cohabitation agreements are also called non-marital agreements or living-together contracts. They are similar in many ways to prenuptial agreements.
Without a cohabitation agreement, couples who lived together for decades would be considered strangers when it comes to property rights. A stay-at-home partner could be left penniless by separation or death.
Cohabitation agreements address the ways in which money, property and debt will be dealt with during a relationship, and at its end. Cohabitation agreements can cover child custody and support, and partner support. They can include wills and durable powers of attorney, and they often proactively address the issue of dispute resolution.
The law surrounding cohabitation agreements for unmarried couples can be complicated, and the facts of each case are unique. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney if you think a cohabitation agreement can protect you and your legal interests.
The Law Offices of James V. Sansone offers a full range of family law legal services including divorce, domestic violence, enforcement of court orders, and guardianships. We are located in Santa Rosa, California and serve clients throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.