I’ve discussed whether couples should sign a prenuptial agreement before marraige recently. A good prenup can protect both individuals in the couple if a marriage were to result in irreconcilable differences.
Signing a legal document of this type could be helpful if the couple owns substantial assets or if there is a wide disparity in income or wealth between the two members of the couple. If either or both of the individuals own businesses, a prenup could protect those businesses, not to mention the lives of any employees relying on those businesses.
More people are looking for the protections of a prenuptial agreement without the benefits of getting married. Marriage is becoming a less popular option for couples today, with only 51 percent of adults taking the plunge according to CNN. Couples are increasingly choosing to live together and share their lives without tying the knot.
Cohabitation can cause legal problems the same way marriage can, particularly if the relationship ends.
A growing number of unmarried couples are seeking similar legal protections through cohabitation agreements. These legally-binding contracts, which are drawn up by an attorney, protect each person’s assets, address child custody issues and determine support obligations, much like prenuptial agreements do.
Cohabitation, in the cases where assets need to be protected, is more than just having a roommate. Often, a couple may decide to have children despite not being married, and this leads to questions about caring for children if the relationship were to dissolve. While one might assume that cohabitation is an option only for couples that cannot legally marry in their state, but 70 percent of the divorce attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers say most of the new cohabitation agreements they’ve seen are signed by heterosexual couples who could be married if they choose to be.
Buying a house together can be dangerous for an unmarried couple. Most states don’t have laws covering this situation, like they do for married couples. A cohabitation agreement can define how the house and its mortgage are treated in the event of a termination of the relationship.
I might say that a cohabitation agreement for a couple not intending to get married is even more important than a prenuptial agreement for a married couple. In some cases, but not all, the risk of the relationship ending is higher without the bond of matrimony.
Do you believe these cohabitation agreements are necessary? Would you sign one?