If you are planning to move in with your partner in Orlando, Florida, have you considered whether it might be wise to put a cohabitation agreement in place? A cohabitation agreement is a contract that a couple can enter into if they plan to live together before they get married. Marriage grants couples certain rights and protections. For example, marriage can result in couples comingling their assets and can provide other protections to spouses—like inheritance rights. Lacking a cohabitation agreement or some other agreement, your partner may have no rights to shared property should you pass away. And, if you get too sick to make important medical decisions, without an agreement in place, your partner may not be allowed to make medical decisions on your behalf. A cohabitation agreement for unmarried couples can make clear each party’s responsibilities to pay rent and other bills, it can clarify which property is shared property and which is separate, and it can make clear other issues, like pet custody should the relationship end. It can also offer provisions regarding your wishes about who you want to make decisions for you should you be too sick to make them yourself. The Aikin Family Law Group is a family law attorney in Orlando, Florida that may be able to assist you with drafting a cohabitation agreement that can work for you.

What Might Be Included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can be tailored to each couple’s needs. Unlike marriage, where all couples are granted certain rights unless a prenuptial agreement is in place, cohabitation agreements can address specific issues of concern if you plan to live together as an unmarried couple. These agreements can address issues like shared and separate property, debts, financial responsibilities, pets, and other concerns. Here are some things that can be addressed in a cohabitation agreement:

  • Each person brings personal property into a relationship, and if you are moving in together, you might each be bringing your own personal property to the home, or one party may even own the home. A cohabitation agreement can make clear which property you’ll consider separate property, and which property you’ll consider shared property. If you plan to make purchases together in the future, a cohabitation agreement can also clearly outline how shared property would be divided should you ever break up. The cohabitation agreement can also make clear which party gets to stay in the apartment if you should you break up. If one person owns a home, the cohabitation agreement can make clear whether the other party has any equity in the home for helping pay the mortgage. Sometimes couples might discuss this, but without putting anything in writing, a partner that contributes to a mortgage may not have the right to benefit from increased value of the home should the other partner who owns it sell.
  • Financial Responsibilities. When couples live together, they begin to share certain financial responsibilities. These responsibilities can include rent, food, utilities, and other costs. Discussing how these responsibilities will be divided can be included in a cohabitation agreement so there is no disagreement going forward.
  • If you have a pet together, the law may view the pet as property. A cohabitation agreement can make clear who will have custody of the pet should you break up and also outline provisions for visitation.
  • Health Directives. What happens if one of you gets sick? What happens if you get so sick you can no longer make decisions for yourself? A cohabitation agreement may include provisions that would give your partner the ability to make these decisions for you should you be too ill to make them.
  • If you want to leave property to your partner should you pass away, without being married, there needs to be a clear document outlining your wishes. A will or an agreement outlining your wishes should you pass away may also protect your partner.

These are just some of the issues that couples may want to address before they move in together. Putting it all down on paper can give each party in the relationship added peace of mind and protection. A cohabitation agreement isn’t just a document about what happens if you break up, it is also a document that offers both of you protection should the unexpected happen. Finally, if you do plan to put a cohabitation agreement in place before you move in together, you’ll each want to hire your own lawyer. A cohabitation agreement that has been reviewed by each party’s counsel, is stronger and can take each party’s interests into account. Ultimately, the cohabitation agreement should protect both parties involved, not just one person. Moving in with your partner? Have questions about some steps you can take to make expectations clear and to protect your legal rights? Speak to the Aikin Family Law Group, a family law firm in Orlando, Florida today. Or, reach out to USAttorneys.com to get connected with a lawyer at the Aikin Family Law Group.

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