Should I Get a Cohabitation Agreement?

Charlotte Miller

Updated on:


As all relationships are different, the concept of cohabitation agreements gains prominence as a tool for establishing clarity and security. Whether you’re about to move in with your partner or are already sharing a home, the question of whether to get a cohabitation agreement is worth exploring. This blog post will delve into the details of what cohabitation agreements entail, what people like about them, as well as who may find entering one with their significant other beneficial.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement, at its core, is a legal document designed to govern the rights and responsibilities of unmarried couples that live together. It functions as a roadmap for navigating various aspects of shared life, offering a clear framework for handling finances, property, and other critical elements. By proactively addressing potential challenges, a cohabitation agreement aims to provide a sense of security and prevent misunderstandings in the future.

Appeals of Cohabitation

While marriage does give a couple higher financial advantages such as lower taxes and larger social security and retirement benefits, many people still choose to cohabitate first. There are many reasons one may choose to live together and not get married yet. Some may seek more financial security before tying the knot, prefer no legal constraints from marriage, or simply believe it’s just too early in the relationship for marriage. Despite not having the same legal status as marriage, cohabitation has its own set of advantages.

Financial Security

Cohabitation agreements offer a sense of financial security by addressing how expenses will be divided and managed within the relationship. This becomes particularly crucial when couples have different financial contributions or varying levels of financial stability. Knowing how financial matters will be handled can alleviate concerns and foster a more harmonious living arrangement. Additionally, it provides a framework for unforeseen financial challenges that may arise, ensuring both partners feel secure in their shared financial journey.

Preserving Independence

For many couples, maintaining individual financial independence is often a priority. A cohabitation agreement allows partners to vocalize and document personal financial boundaries, preserving autonomy while still contributing to shared expenses. This becomes especially relevant when partners have different earning capacities or financial goals. By clearly defining each person’s financial responsibilities, the agreement promotes a balanced and respectful financial dynamic within the relationship.

Clarity in Responsibilities

Establishing clear roles and expectations is vital for a healthy cohabiting relationship. Cohabitation agreements provide an opportunity to outline responsibilities, from daily chores to long-term plans. This clarity can minimize conflicts, enhance communication, and contribute to a happier, more organized living arrangement. It serves as a proactive measure to prevent misunderstandings, promoting a sense of partnership where both individuals understand and agree upon their respective roles and contributions to the shared life they are building together.

Things to Include in Cohabitation Agreement

When drafting a cohabitation agreement, consider incorporating the following elements:

Financial Arrangements

Specify how expenses will be shared, whether through joint accounts, individual contributions, or a combination of both.

Property Ownership

Clarify how shared property will be managed, addressing scenarios such as the division of assets in the event of a breakup.

Personal Assets and Debts

Define how personal assets and debts will be handled during the relationship and in the case of a separation.

Responsibilities and Expectations

Clearly outline each partner’s roles and expectations within the relationship, encompassing day-to-day responsibilities and long-term plans.

Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

Include a process for resolving conflicts or disagreements, fostering a constructive approach to dispute resolution.

Who Should Get a Cohabitation Agreement?

While cohabitation agreements can benefit a variety of couples, they are particularly relevant for those who:

  • Want to have protection, even if not married, but just living with one another.
  • Have Significant Assets: Couples with substantial assets can use cohabitation agreements to protect their individual interests.
  • Own Property Together: If partners share ownership of a home or other significant assets, a cohabitation agreement becomes crucial for defining ownership rights.
  • Desire Clarity in Finances: Couples seeking transparency and clear expectations in financial matters can benefit from the structure provided by a cohabitation agreement.

It’s important to note that, while setting a cohabitation agreement, individuals who do not want to be legally considered as married should check their state’s recognition of common law marriage. If common law marriage is recognized, it is advisable to make sure you are aware of the requirements and specify in the agreement that the partners do not consider themselves married.

  • Live with one another
  • Have the capacity to marry (are not in a relationship already)
  • Intend to get married
  • Hold yourself out to friends and family as a married couple

What Happens to the Agreement if We Want to Get Married?

In the event that a couple decides to get married while having a cohabitation agreement, then depending on the specifics of the agreement, the agreement may either be turned into the marriage contract, or it may be null once married. If the agreement ceases upon marriage, you and your partner may consider creating a prenup for security in the event of a divorce in Newport Beach. Since many things can change between the time of the creation of the cohabitation agreement and marriage, it is beneficial to nullify the agreement to create new terms in the prenup.

In conclusion, as relationships continue to evolve, so do the tools available for couples to navigate their shared lives. A cohabitation agreement, though not a necessity for every couple, can be a proactive and valuable step in establishing a strong foundation for a cohabiting relationship. Whether you’re on the cusp of this journey with your partner or already in the midst of it, carefully considering the merits of a cohabitation agreement can contribute to a more secure and transparent living arrangement, fostering a sense of partnership and understanding between you and your loved one. Remember, communication is key in any relationship, and a cohabitation agreement can provide a structured platform for these crucial conversations, ensuring that both partners feel heard, valued, and secure in their shared life together.