MIAMI, Florida. More and more adults are choosing to live together rather than getting married. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 18 million adults cohabitate. While half of the couples cohabitating are under 35 years old, more and more cohabitating adults are over 50. While cohabitation might seem like less of a commitment than marriage, cohabitating couples often share a lease together, may adopt pets together, and may even sometimes make major purchases together, like buying a car. As more adults choose cohabitation over marriage, it raises an important question: should cohabitating couples sign a cohabitation agreement before they move in?
It’s something cohabitating couples should consider.
For example, couples who get married enjoy certain protections when it comes to shared assets, shared rights to income earned during the marriage, and shared investments. Cohabitating couples won’t automatically enjoy these rights. So, let’s say you have children down the line and the woman stays home to care for the children, in a cohabitation situation, a woman might not have the same right to seek alimony. In fact, in cohabitation situations, women often have more to lose when the partnership splits, because women won’t necessarily have the same rights to the home, to alimony, and to other forms of support that married women may be able to access.
In fact, according to the Guardian, as more couples choose to cohabitate, these same couples find themselves facing more complex legal challenges when they choose to split. For example, what happens if you are both on the lease to your apartment? Or, what happens if one person has a mortgage and the other partner helped pay for the mortgage? And, what happens if one partner decides to stay home and care for the children while the other works? What happens if you adopt a pet and later split? Who keeps the pet?
It can be costly and difficult to battle these questions out in court. The best way to avoid litigation is to have a cohabitation agreement in place before you move in. The cohabitation agreement can be similar in some ways to a prenuptial agreement. It is a time where you and your partner can share your financial situation, talk about what expenses will be shared, and discuss how assets, property, and apartments or homes will be divided should the relationship not work out.
In order for the agreement to be binding, you might want to speak to a qualified lawyer to help you work out the details and the language. Sandy B. Becher, P.A. is a divorce lawyer in Miami, Florida who has seen what can go wrong when couples don’t take the time to discuss finances and expectations before taking the next big step in their relationships. Before making your next commitment, consider your legal rights and your financial health and consider speaking to Sandy B. Becher, P.A.
Sandy B. Becher, P.A.
201 S. Biscayne Boulevard
Twenty Seventh Floor
Miami, FL 33131