Cohabitation Agreement

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 3,401 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Cohabitation Agreement?

CREATE A FREE PROJECT POSTING
Post Project Now

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

Over the past ten years, there has been a drastic rise in the number of unmarried partners living together. When unmarried partners cohabitate, they are not subject to the same laws and protections as married couples. As a result, when nonmarried partners split, there can be costly and complicated disputes over property and finances.

To avoid these issues, nonmarried partners have started utilizing cohabitation agreements.

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document, sometimes called a nonmarital agreement, that protects the rights of the couple and ensures financial security for both parties. This written contract is negotiated between the partners and lays out the obligations of each person.

Some of the issues that may be agreed upon within the cohabitation agreement include:

  • Property and debt that each person had before moving in together
  • Contributions that each partner will make while living together (how much each partner will put towards common bills like rent, utilities, etc.)
  • How to divide common property if the couple separates
  • How to handle any joint debt if the couple separates
  • Will there be alimony if the couple separates

A cohabitation agreement can be valid between same-sex or opposite-sex couples and can include whatever the party’s think is necessary to protect their interests. In the event of separation, or even death, a cohabitation agreement will make it easier to divide property and obligations.

How Do Cohabitation Agreements Work?

A cohabitation agreement is a written contract that can provide nonmarried couples similar protections to married couples. It is similar to prenuptial agreements in that is covers the property and obligations each couple had before beginning to cohabitate.

When two people decide to live together, it is natural that they will begin to comingle obligations and finances. This could be a mortgage or lease agreement, utilities, a car payment, or something as simple as groceries. Without being married or having a legal contract in place, neither party’s interests or investments are protected.

Disputes often arise when a couple separates and there is standing lease agreement or outstanding debt that may have been incurred together. A cohabitation agreement can provide provisions to solve these issues before they even arise.

Before legally drafting the agreement, couples should sit down and agree upon what property belongs to each person and how they would like to divide their assets should a breakup occur. It is always good practice to consult a family lawyer when creating these kinds of contracts to ensure that you are both protected and that the contract follows all legal regulations in your state.

For more information on cohabitation agreements, click here.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Ryenne S.

59 projects on CC
View Profile

Anand A.

23 projects on CC
View Profile

Keidi C.

6 projects on CC
View Profile

Daehoon P.

93 projects on CC
View Profile

What’s Included in a Cohabitation Agreement?

One great thing about a cohabitation agreement is that is can be custom tailored to fit the needs of the parties to fully protect them and their property. Below are some examples of provisions and clauses that can be included in a cohabitation agreement.

  1. Previously Owned Property: Each party should designate what property they brought with them to the relationship. This can include cars, furniture, bank accounts, or even real estate.
  2. Previously Incurred Debt: The cohabitation agreement should clearly state what kind of debt each party had before moving in together.
  3. How to Pay Rent/Mortgage: If the couple is going to be cohabitating in a house that one person owns, it should be established whose name is on the deed and who will be responsible for paying the mortgage. If the couple is going to rent, it needs to be decided if both or only one name will go on the lease.
  4. What Happens to the House/Apartment at Breakup: In the event of a breakup, the couple needs to decide who will continue to live in the house or apartment they are cohabitating in and who will move out. This is fairly easy if only one name is on the deed or lease agreement, but the couple should also establish a timeline to follow if one person must move out.
  5. Bills, Utilities, Expenses: A cohabitation agreement can include a breakdown of who is responsible for each bill the couple will now incur together. This includes electric, water, cable, groceries, and other joint expenses. If a couple chooses to combine their auto insurance or renter’s insurance that should be addressed as well.
  6. Children: In some cases, an unmarried couple chooses to live together because they share a child in common. The couple can agree to custody and visitation in their cohabitation agreement in the event they separate. Issues of custody and child support however may not be honored in a cohabitation agreement and may need to be decided separately in court.
  7. Pets: Disputes over couple’s pets are becoming increasingly popular as more unmarried couples live together without executing a cohabitation agreement. Even though most pet owners consider their furry friends as family, most states consider pets as property. The couple should agree who will keep any pets acquired before and during the relationship in the event of a breakup.
  8. Property Acquired While Together: A couple will acquire property while together so it should be decided who will get to keep certain property after a separation. Furniture, appliances, joint bank accounts, and even knickknacks, should all be included in a cohabitation agreement.
  9. 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.

Like most valid contracts, to be legally binding, a cohabitation agreement needs to include both party’s names and addresses. It needs to be signed by each party and it is a good idea to also have the agreement notarized. Each state handles contracts differently so it is important to follow contract laws in your state to ensure your agreement is legal.

Click here to learn the average cost of hiring a lawyer to draft a contract .

ContractsCounsel Cohabitation Agreement Image

Image via Pexels by Andrea

Who Needs a Cohabitation Agreement?

Not all couples will need a cohabitation agreement and choosing to execute this type of agreement is personal and depends on the relationship. Consider these questions when deciding if you need a cohabitation agreement:

  1. Are you living with your partner?
  2. Did either party have a significant amount of property or debt prior to moving in together?
  3. Do you plan on accumulating a significant amount of property or debt with your partner while living together?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, a cohabitation agreement may be a good option.

Other couples who may want to consider a cohabitation agreement are elderly couples who want to ensure their property is distributed properly upon their death, and couples who want to live together but never plan on getting married.

Are Cohabitation Agreements Legally Binding?

Most states will recognize and uphold a properly executed cohabitation agreement. Whether or not a cohabitation agreement is legally binding will depend on the contract laws in your state and if your agreement abides by those laws.

There are some situations where a cohabitation may not hold up in court like if there are terms in the agreement that are objectively unreasonable or if one party signed under force or duress.

The best way to ensure that your cohabitation agreement is fair, properly executed, and legally binding is to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in contracts or family law. An attorney can assist you with drafting and agreement that meets all the standards and regulations of a valid contract.

Get Help with a Cohabitation Agreement

Do you have questions about a cohabitation agreement and want to speak to an expert? Post a project today on ContractsCounsel and receive bids from family lawyers who specialize in cohabitation agreements.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers

Richard N. on ContractsCounsel
View Richard
4.9 (40)
Member Since:
July 9, 2020

Richard N.

Managing Member
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Princeton, NJ
39 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ
New York Law School

I have been practicing law for 35 years. In addition to my law degree, I hold an MBA. I've created six companies, currently act as outside counsel to another 12, and have been an advisor to more than 500 startups and entrepreneurs.

Donya G. on ContractsCounsel
View Donya
4.9 (40)
Member Since:
July 10, 2020

Donya G.

Contract, E-Commerce Attorney & Dispute Resolution Specialists
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
United States
22 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CT, NY
Pace University School of Law

I am a licensed and active NY Contracts Attorney, with over 20 years of diverse legal and business experience. I specialize in reviewing, drafting and negotiating commercial agreements. My practice focuses on working with small business clients as well as clients from international brokerage firms on acquisitions, especially in the Ecommerce space; drafting, negotiating, reviewing and advising on business agreements; ; breach of contract issues, contract disputes and arbitration. I am licensed to practice in New York and Connecticut, and am a FINRA and NCDS Arbitrator. My experience includes serving as General Counsel to small businesses. This entails reviewing, updating and drafting contracts such as employments agreements, asset purchase agreements, master services agreements, operating agreements and a variety of business and commercial contracts. Additionally, I assist clients with business strategies, contract disputes and arbitration. My diverse experience allows me to give my clients a well-rounded approach to the issues they face. I have been at top AML law firms; a Vice President at an Investment Bank, a Civil Court Arbitrator presiding over cases in contract law, commercial law, a Hearing Officer, presiding over cases and rendering written decisions, and a Judicial Clerk to a Civil Court Judge. It would be a privilege to assist you and your business with my services.

Carlos C. on ContractsCounsel
View Carlos
Member Since:
July 11, 2020

Carlos C.

Attorney-at-law and Certified Public Accountant
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Atlanta, GA
26 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, FL, GA
Inter American University

Carlos Colón-Machargo is a fully bilingual (English-Spanish) attorney-at-law and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over twenty years of experience. His major areas of practice include labor and employment law; business law; corporate, contract and tax law; and estate planning. He is currently admitted to practice law in Georgia, Florida, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and currently licensed as a CPA in Florida. He received a Master of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1997, where he concentrated in Labor and Employment Law (LL. M. in Labor and Employment Law) and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the Inter American University.

Michael W. on ContractsCounsel
View Michael
5.0 (2)
Member Since:
July 13, 2020

Michael W.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Columbia, MD
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MD
Georgetown University Law Center

Graduate of Georgetown Law (J.D. and LL.M in Taxation) Injury Claims Adjuster before law school for top insurer Eight plus years of legal experience Past roles: Associate at premier boutique law firm in the DC metro area Policy Associate at a large academic and research institution Solo Practice Areas of Expertise: Contracts Business Formation Trusts and Estates Demand Letters Entertainment Transactions

Matthew F. on ContractsCounsel
View Matthew
Member Since:
July 13, 2020

Matthew F.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Coral Springs, FL
19 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
UF Levin College of Law

As a business law attorney serving Coral Springs, Parkland, and Broward County, FL, Matthew has been recognized as “AV” rated, which is the highest rating an attorney can achieve through Martindale’s Peer Review system. Year after year Matthew is listed in the “Legal Leaders” publication as a top-rated attorney in South Florida in the areas of litigation, commercial litigation, and real estate. Matthew is also a graduate and instructor of the Kaufman Foundation’s FastTrac NewVenture Program, presented by the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development.

John B. on ContractsCounsel
View John
Member Since:
July 13, 2020

John B.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
New York, NY
7 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ, NY
New York Law School

John Benemerito is the Founder and Managing Partner of Benemerito Attorneys at Law. Admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey, John represents small business owners and startups in the areas of Business and Securities Law. John received his Bachelors Degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he majored in Criminal Justice. Afterwards, he attended New York Law School where he focused his studies on Corporate and Securities Law. John comes from a family of entrepreneurs. From as far back as he can remember he was always involved in his family’s numerous businesses. At the age of fifteen, John entered into a new business venture with his father and managed to grow and maintain that business through high school, college and law school.John is currently a co founder in over five different businesses. After law school, John decided that he wanted to help people like himself. He opened his own law practice and began working primarily with small business owners until he was introduced into the startup world. Ever since that time, John has worked with hundreds of startups and thousands of entrepreneurs from all different backgrounds in helping them achieve their goals. Having been an entrepreneur his entire life, John understands what it takes to create and maintain a successful business. He enjoys sitting down and working with his clients in figuring out each of their unique challenges.

Mark D. on ContractsCounsel
View Mark
5.0 (9)
Member Since:
August 27, 2020

Mark D.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
San Diego, CA
12 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Boston College Law School

California-based small business attorney handling matters related to securities, mergers & acquisitions, corporate governance, and other business transactions.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call