Nowadays, many California couples choose to live together before marriage or without the intention of ever getting married. According to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of adults ages 18 to 44, surveyed in the 2013-2017 National Survey of Family Growth, said they have at some point cohabitated or lived with an unmarried partner, whereas only 50 percent had ever been married.
Entering into an agreement
If you choose to cohabitate, you may want to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement with your partner to protect yourself and your assets in the event of a break-up. These agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements for married couples. Couples who will benefit most from a cohabitation agreement are those that:
- Live together in the same home
- Own property together
- Have a joint bank account
- Share investments
- Have significant assets to protect
What’s there in the agreement?
Cohabitation agreements generally only address matters related to property. The following may be included in your cohabitation agreement:
- Property you own separately or brought into the relationship.
- Division of property you own together if the relationship ends
- Division of income/expenses
- Who will pay which household bills (e.g., rent, mortgage, utilities)
- Sharing of pension/retirement assets
- Who will live in the home if you breakup
Cohabitating couples are not automatically given the same protections as married couples, especially if the relationship ends. That is why it is important to have an agreement in place to handle any issues that arise during your relationship. No two agreements are the same, so it is important to discuss these matters with an attorney who can personalize your agreement based on the needs of you and your partner.