What do cohabitation agreements cost? This is a question that many couples who live together but have not yet married ask. Let’s explore this question and review some general information about cohabitation agreements.
How Much Does a Cohabitation Agreement Cost?
A cohabitation agreement, sometimes called a nonmarital agreement, is a legal document, that protects the rights of unmarried couples who live together and ensures financial security for both parties in the event the couple breaks up.
Cohabitation agreements are a great way for couples who reside together to avoid disputes over property, leases, debt, and assets. It is highly encouraged that couples hire a knowledgeable lawyer familiar with cohabitation agreements to draft their contract.
The agreement needs to meet certain legal requirements to be legally binding and protect each person. If the contract isn’t drafted correctly, it may not be legally enforceable and could leave one of the partners open to financial harm.
Based on ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data, the average cost of a project involving a cohabitation agreement is $450.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement provides nonmarried couples with similar protections to those of married couples. These agreements typically detail the property and obligations each couple had before beginning to cohabitate and what happens to those obligations if the couple splits.
Cohabitation agreements are extremely flexible and can customized and negotiated to fully protect each partner in the relationship. Some terms that are often included in a cohabitation agreement include:
- Previously Owned Property. Previously owned property can include cars, furniture, bank accounts, and real estate. The cohabitation agreement should clearly state who owner what property before moving in together.
- Previous Debt. Each partner’s previous debt should be detailed in the cohabitation agreement.
- Living Arrangement. Couples may choose to move into each other’s already leased or owned property or buy or lease a new property together. The cohabitation agreement can include information about whose name will be on the documents and how payments will be made. This cohabitation agreement should also include a section about what happens to this property if the couple splits.
- Bills, Utilities, Expenses. Cohabitation agreements can be as detailed or vague as the couple desires. Some couples choose to include a complete breakdown of who will pay each living expense.
- Most states consider pets as property. The cohabitation agreement should establish who owns each pet and what will happen to the animal if the couple should break-up.
- Property Acquired While Together. It is inevitable that a couple will acquire property while living together. This can include furniture, appliances, joint bank accounts, and other personal items. The cohabitation agreement can outline who is entitled to certain property.
- Debts Acquired While Together. While living together, a couple may want to make a large purchase like a car. It should be established who will be responsible for this debt if the couple splits.
Before drafting the agreement, couples should sit down and make a list of all their assets and debts. A family attorney or cohabitation agreement lawyer can help a couple itemize their property and create a fair and comprehensive cohabitation agreement.
Can You Write Your Own Cohabitation Agreement?
Yes, you can write your own cohabitation agreement; however, it is highly encouraged to consult with a lawyer to assist in drafting or reviewing a cohabitation agreement.
Cohabitation agreements are legally binding documents and will be upheld in most states. It will need to include specific elements to be a legally enforceable contract ad some contract laws are state specific.
The only way to ensure that your cohabitation agreement is legal, fair, and protects both parties is to have it drafted or reviewed by a licensed lawyer familiar with contracts in your state.
Cohabitation Agreement Projects
Cohabitation Agreement Drafting
Couples can hire a contract lawyer or family lawyer to draft their cohabitation agreement. Typically, the lawyer will meet with the couple, go over the couple’s assets and debts, and establish the goals of the cohabitation agreement.
After an initial draft, there may be more meetings between the couple and their attorney to make any revisions and ensure that the contract includes everything that the couple needs to be protected.
Cohabitation Agreement Review
It is common for a couple to begin drafting their own cohabitation agreement using an online template. This is a good place to start, however it is wise to have a licensed attorney review the contract before signing it.
An experienced lawyer can review your cohabitation agreement to make sure the contract adheres to all local laws and protects the rights and interests of both parties.
Cohabitation Agreement Drafting Cost
Hiring a lawyer to draft a cohabitation agreement will incur fees because it requires the time of a family or contract lawyer to complete the task.
ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average cohabitation agreement drafting costs to be $500 across all states.
Cohabitation Agreement Review Cost
When a couple drafts their own cohabitation agreement and hires a lawyer to review the document, it will be less expensive, but the lawyer will still charge for their time on the project.
ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average cohabitation agreement review costs to be $400 across all states.
How Do Lawyers Charge for Cohabitation Agreements?
Family lawyers most commonly use an hourly rate fee arrangement to charge clients for their legal services. Some lawyers; however, use other payment structures like flat fee rates.
Hourly Rates for Cohabitation Agreements
When a lawyer uses an hourly rate fee structure, they will bill their client for hours a case or project takes at a set hourly rate. The lawyer may also bill for any work done by their employees like paralegals or office staff.
This fee structure allows lawyers to ensure that they are fairly compensated for all the time they spent working on a particular project, like a cohabitation agreement.
ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average hourly rate for a family lawyer ranges from $250 - $350 per hour.
Flat Fee Rates for Cohabitation Agreements
While flat fee payment structures are not common in family law, some lawyers will opt for a flat fee rate if the project is specific with a definitive end like drafting a cohabitation agreement.
In this fee structure, the lawyer will assess the project, estimate how much time it will take, and then quote the client a flat rate fee for the task. This fee is typically required to be paid upfront before the lawyer begins work.
Clients tend to prefer the flat fee rate billing structure because they know from the beginning exactly what they will be paying for an attorney’s legal services.
ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average flat fee rate for cohabitation agreement costs to be $450.
Get Help with Cohabitation Agreement
Do you need help with a cohabitation agreement project? If so, post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from contract lawyers to handle your project. All lawyers on the ContractsCounsel’s platform are vetted by our team to make sure you are provided with top tier service.