When a couple in a relationship lives together for a long time, their relationship can look a lot like a marriage. They may start to intertwine their personal and financial lives, including by buying or renting property together, opening joint bank accounts, or adopting pets.
However, this can lead to a difficult situation for both parties if the relationship ultimately ends. Couples who choose to live together can help avoid many of the difficulties that can arise in a break-up by having a cohabitation agreement.
What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a written document that you and your partner or significant other draw up before or while you live together. The agreement sets forth how you and your partner have agreed to deal with various issues, both while you live together as well as if your relationship ends.
A cohabitation agreement solely protects your financial and financially related interests. You and your partner can also choose to draft your cohabitation agreement in such a way that it can serve as a marriage contract if you and your partner later get married.
If you and your partner have children, your cohabitation agreement cannot control issues such as custody or child support. The courts retain authority to determine issues of child custody and child support to ensure that any arrangement serves the child’s best interests.
In addition, if you and your partner get married, you both have an equal right to live in the matrimonial home. Therefore, a court can disregard any provision of a cohabitation agreement that later becomes a marriage contract that gives either party the right to live in the family home.
What Are Some Situations Where a Cohabitation Agreement Might Be Worth Exploring?
You and your partner may consider entering into a cohabitation agreement if:
- You decide to purchase significant assets together, such as real estate.
- You decide to have joint financial accounts, including bank accounts or credit cards.
- You want to protect financial contributions you make to the relationship, such as contribution towards mortgage payments if your partner owns the property you both live in.
- You want to protect your fair share of the wealth you and your partner create if, for example, you leave the workforce to maintain the home while your partner works, or you take on the expenses of your partnership while your partner pursues educational or business opportunities.
When Might an Agreement Not be a Good Idea?
A cohabitation agreement may not prove necessary if you and your spouse:
- Don’t have any significant assets.
- Don’t plan on comingling your funds or financial accounts.
- If you and your spouse only need to resolve the issues of child custody or support – such matters cannot be resolved by a cohabitation agreement.
- You are considering ending your relationship, as your partner may argue that the cohabitation agreement was entered into under fraudulent circumstances.
- You are presented with a cohabitation agreement that significantly favors your partner.
- Your partner is attempting to pressure you into signing a cohabitation agreement.
How a Lawyer Can Help
When you are thinking of entering into a cohabitation agreement, a lawyer can help protect your rights and interests by:
- Advising you whether it will serve your goals and interests
- Explaining your rights and responsibilities under a cohabitation agreement
- Representing you during negotiations
- Reviewing a proposed agreement that you have been presented by your partner to ensure it treats your rights and interests fairly
- Helping you to enforce an existing agreement between you and your partner
If you are considering establishing a cohabitation agreement with your partner or significant other, contact Carmichael Law for a consultation with a knowledgeable Oshawa family lawyer. Learn more about your rights and whether an agreement may be right for you. Call us today at (905)-571-5123 or reach out to us online.