Cohabitation Agreements: Are They Right for You and Your Partner?
Navigating the process behind creating a cohabitation agreement with your partner can seem complicated, as the idea itself is not as popular as marriage. Though marriage has its benefits, there are also many benefits exclusive to cohabitation. It is strongly recommended to contact an estate planning attorney to help navigate you and your partner through co-habitation. In this article, you will distinguish the differences between cohabitation agreements and marriage and common law marriage and discover if a cohabitation agreement is the right choice for you and your partner.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement and What Does it Do?
A cohabitation agreement serves as a mutual understanding to be in a relationship under the same household without being married. This agreement also protects your individual property, private property, and finances. It is ideal for couples that do not wish to get married but want to find security in their relationship and belongings. These documents also determine what happens with any listed assets at the time of one partner’s death.
The Difference Between Cohabitation and Marriage
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the differences between cohabitation and marriage. The answer is simple: marriage is a legally recognized union of two people that can only be broken in a legal setting, while cohabitation is a legal agreement between two people who live in the same household. Cohabitation can occur anytime and anywhere.
The Difference Between Cohabitation and Common Law Marriage
Oklahoma is one of the few states in the US that still recognizes common law marriage. Common law marriages are somewhere in between cohabitation agreements and a standard marriage. Though Oklahoma still recognizes common law marriage, the state does not provide a set time for when a common law marriage begins. Instead, Oklahoma looks at whether the couple is financially interdependent, age, marital eligibility, and cohabitation. The couple must “hold themselves out” as married.
One of the main differences between cohabitation agreements and common law marriages lies in what happens after the relationship ends. Common law marriages are treated similarly to standard marriages when it comes to the end of the relationship. Both parties must settle the divorce in court. Cohabitation agreements do not follow the same procedure. Cohabitation agreements guard against a claim from one partner stating they are common law married.
Benefits of Utilizing a Cohabitation Agreement
One of the main benefits of sharing a cohabitation agreement with a partner is the time and resources saved if the relationship ends. With any form of marriage, a divorce takes time and money, and can drain both party members physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is strongly recommended to put this agreement in the court's hands with the help of an attorney.
Questions to Consider Before Drafting Your Cohabitation Agreement
- What happens to the property after you and your partner split up?
- Who will be featured on the lease or deed for you and your partner’s property?
- Should one partner handle the financial support of the other after a breakup?
- How will visitation rights be handled until paternity rights have been set?
- Who will handle debt gathered before or during the cohabitation agreement?
- How much time will each of you have to move out after a breakup?
- What happens to personal belongings bought during the cohabitation agreement?
- How will assets be handled if one partner passes away?