Defining the Undefined: Cohabitation Agreements

Living together without getting married is a fairly common situation for couples these days. In some states, the protection of common law marriage applies after a certain period of time. However, California does not recognize common law marriages no matter how long a couple has been cohabitating.

two people sign a cohabitation agreement with a lawyer

The limited rights of a cohabitating couple are further complicated by the fact that there is usually no written agreement. A cohabitating couple may agree to share finances and property, but this likely means little unless the agreement is in writing. Even if a person were to be eligible for financial support or ownership of jointly-acquired property, it would be hard to back up this claim without written proof.

People do not want to think about their relationship ending, but this can put them in a bad position if that does happen. An oral agreement made during the course of the cohabitation may become a disputed "he said, she said" matter. Written agreements can clearly spell out what both parties intended at the time.

Not everyone wants to get married. However, if you are planning to combine your life with that of another person, having a written agreement of some sort is a good idea. For more information regarding family law, contact Richard Ross Associates.

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