A growing number of couples are signing “cohabitation contracts.” That’s an agreement between two people who decide to live together, that details who gets what if the relationship doesn’t work out. It’s similar to the prenup some couples sign before their wedding - except that a cohabitation contract is legally binding even if you never get married.
It may not sound romantic, but experts say it’s smart to have a contract. Why? Steve Kirwin is a lawyer who says that because couples are waiting longer to get married today, people have more to lose financially if they decide to live together – like their home or car. He says a lot of people assume that as long as they don’t get married, then they’ll get to keep all their stuff if they eventually break up. Unfortunately, many exes are suing each other today over things they supposedly bought “together” and the laws governing unmarried couples aren’t as specific as the ones for married couples.
Kirwin says that means a judge could end up deciding to split all your property 50-50, even if you were the one who actually paid for everything.
That’s why he says all unmarried couples should have a cohabitation contract, especially if you share living expenses. That way, you’ll have something in writing answering questions like: “If we break up, who’ll be responsible for the mortgage or rent?” “Who gets to keep the furniture we bought?” or even “Who gets to keep the dog?”
Want to go further? Just Google the words “cohabitation contract,” and you’ll find dozens of lawyers ready to help you and your partner get started.