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Cohabitation Agreements: How They Differ From Marriages

Marriage is the first thing most people think of when discussing the future of a long-term relationship. While this is certainly a valid option, it isn’t the only one. Cohabitation agreements can check some of the boxes you’re looking for while avoiding any financial ties associated with marriage. It is recommended to contact an estate planning attorney to discover which choice is right for you and your partner. In this article, you will discover a cohabitation agreement and its differences between traditional marriages, common law marriages, and prenuptial agreements.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement between two people stating their intentions with their financial assets, property, and more. This serves as an understanding between the two parties that can be agreed upon in the eyes of the court. A cohabitation agreement is ideal for couples who want to set boundaries with their assets without the time and money that goes into a traditional marriage. Couples can also utilize a cohabitation agreement to avoid being common-law married in Oklahoma.

What is the Difference Between Cohabitation and Traditional Marriage?

There may be some confusion regarding the differences between a cohabitation agreement and a traditional marriage. Many may view them as the same thing, but this is not exactly the case. A traditional marriage is a legally recognized union between two people. It can only be broken in court, while a cohabitation agreement is a legal agreement between two individuals living in the same household. Cohabitation agreements can be created anytime and anywhere. This agreement is in place until the relationship ends or if an individual passes away during the relationship.

What is the Difference Between Cohabitation and Common Law Marriage?

Only a few states in the United States recognize common law marriages, and Oklahoma is one of them. Though Oklahoma still allows this type of marriage, they do not provide a set time for when a common law marriage begins. If a common law married couple was married in another state and moves to Oklahoma, the state will recognize their marriage. Like traditional marriages and cohabitation agreements, both parties in a common law marriage must live in the same household, handle their financial assets, and be 18 or older. In Oklahoma, a common law married couple must be financially interdependent, of age, eligible for marriage, and live together. The main difference between marriage and cohabitation agreements is how they end. Cohabitation agreements are easy to break and may not require court time. Marriages, even common law, are required to settle the divorce in court, costing time and money for both parties.

What is the Difference Between a Cohabitation Agreement and a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a mutual understanding between two parties before getting married concerning what should happen to their assets should they divorce. Though they may seem similar in their first stages, a prenuptial agreement eventually leads to a standard marriage. Prenuptial agreements generally protect financial assets should the marriage end in divorce. Cohabitation agreements are also typically used to protect financial assets, among other things, but they do not lead to marriage. The only significant difference between prenuptial and cohabitation agreements is that cohabitation agreements are used when a couple does not want to be legally married, while couples using prenuptial agreements do.

The Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement

One of the main benefits of a cohabitation agreement is the time and resources saved if the relationship ends. It is strongly recommended to get this agreement before the court with the help of an attorney. Some people use a cohabitation agreement to avoid eventually being common law married.

What to Consider Before Creating Your Cohabitation Agreement

  • What will happen to the property you share with your partner if you split up?
  • Will one or both of you be featured on the lease or deed for your property?
  • Should one partner share financial support with the other if you split up?
  • Will both parties handle debt gathered before or during the creation of the cohabitation agreement?
  • How will visitation rights be handled until paternity rights have been determined?
  • How much time will each party have to move out following a potential breakup?
  • What will happen to personal possessions bought during the relationship?
  • What happens to split assets when one partner dies?

Our firm is devoted to providing each client with all the resources of a large firm but with the individualized attention of a small practice. The lawyers at Ball Morse Lowe can help you seek what's needed in your case. Our team is standing by to assist you, so call us today at 405.701.5355 or email clientintake@bml.law.

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The skilled attorneys at Ball Morse Lowe are passionate about providing education and information to individuals and families so they can make informed decisions about estate planning. In addition, we work closely with our clients to implement comprehensive estate plans.

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Arrange an initial consultation with one of our estate planning lawyers by calling Ball Morse Lowe PLLC, at 405-701-5355 or email clientintake@bml.law. We serve clients in Edmond, Norman, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and areas throughout the state. 

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Ball Morse Lowe PLLC, serves businesses and individuals throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. As an award winning law firm, we provide legal solutions in matters involving oil and gas law, estate planning, family law business law and litigation. You can depend on Ball Morse Lowe PLLC, for sound advice, sensible solutions and vigorous representation.

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