Cohabitation Agreements

Marriage is not always the best choice for everyone. Today, more couples are choosing to live together without marrying. When choosing cohabitation, couples are foregoing certain rights and protections provided by a marriage.

Married couples are entitled to numerous rights including property distributions and financial support in the event of divorce; file joint tax returns; receive survivor’s benefits from retirement plans and Social Security; obtain “family” health insurance, dental insurance, and other employment benefits.  On the other hand, unmarried couples generally can only acquire similar rights by entering into a contract such as a cohabitation agreement (also known as a cohabitation contract). A cohabitation agreement tries to establish the same rights and obligations that married people obtain by custom, statute, and agreement.

These provisions can be made prospectively (future obligations) or with regards to current debts, children, etc.

Cohabitation agreements can include provisions such as:

    • Responsibility for debts
    • Financial support
    • Responsibility for household expenses
    • Health insurance
    • Life insurance
    • Child support
    • Custody
      • Visitation
      • Decision making authority
      • Surname of child
    • Property distribution
    • Care and custody of pets
    • Rights to marital home
    • Retirement benefits
    • Estate planning / wills
    • Health care decision
      • Power of attorney
      • Health care proxy
    • Methods of dispute resolution