What Is a Cohabitation Agreement & What Does It Do?
A cohabitation agreement is a contract entered into by persons living together but not contemplating marriage. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement and helps resolve factual disputes by clarifying the unmarried partners' intentions regarding the distribution of their property upon the couple's separation.
Cohabitation agreements can be used to detail:
- The nature and value of the couple's property
- How the property will be divided in the event of separation
- How debts and liabilities would be divided
- How expenses will be paid and by whom
- Whether any support obligations will arise at the termination of the relationship
- How property will be distributed at death
If you are interested in learning more about how a cohabitation agreement may benefit you and your partner, contact the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC.
How Cohabitation Agreements Fit into Your Estate Plan
Cohabitation agreements are best paired with an unmarried couples' reciprocal trust. Even if unmarried couples prudently set up Wills, Trusts, and other Estate Planning documents to ensure that their property is distributed according to their wishes, family conflicts may still arise to derail those carefully laid plans.
Family members who refuse to accept an unmarried couples' relationship may challenge their Estate plan, alleging fraud, duress, undue influence, or a lack of capacity. It is often advisable for unmarried couples to plan ahead for these conflicts by executing cohabitation agreements, and by including a “no-contest” clause in their wills and trusts, to document their capacity and to confirm their intent as expressed in their wills/trusts by way of a Certificate of Independent Review. If a couple anticipates family conflict, they should take extra steps to ensure their intent is clarified beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Does a Prenuptial Agreement Supersede a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement can be superseded by way of a prenuptial (i.e., premarital) agreement (PMA) in the event the couple intends to eventually marry. A PMA is a very technical document entered into before marriage to establish each party's property rights and support obligations in the event of divorce. Couples who are already married and who did not enter into a prenuptial agreement may still “determine their own fate” at divorce by entering into a postnuptial agreement to accomplish the same result.