Not that long ago, it was highly unusual for couples to cohabitate even briefly prior to marriage. These days, though, it is increasingly common for couples to commit without ever legally marrying.
There are numerous reasons why you might not want to marry your current romantic partner. Maybe you are completely committed to each other, but you receive benefits because of your deceased spouse’s work history. Perhaps you have religious or family reasons for choosing not to marry.
Whatever your motivation is, you can still legally protect yourself and your property by negotiating and signing a cohabitation agreement with your partner. When would a cohabitation agreement be beneficial?
When you decide to have children
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to negotiate a cohabitation agreement with a partner is that you would like to create your own family. A cohabitation agreement allows you to outline your responsibilities to one another and to the children that you hope to have.
When unmarried couples want to have children, having an agreement in place about how to protect the rights of both parents is an important step in that process.
When you buy a house together
Jointly purchasing a home makes a lot of sense. The cost of a mortgage may be less than the price to rent a similar property. Additionally, you can accrue personal wealth in the form of equity.
A cohabitation agreement outlines what financial and practical responsibilities each of you have for your shared home ownership arrangements. If you do split up, that agreement will make it easier for you to decide who stays in the house or how you divide the equity you have accrued in the property during your relationship.
When one of you leaves the workforce
In order to take care of a home or raise children, it is often necessary for one spouse to put their career on the back burner and focus on the family. For unmarried couples, there is additional risk to making this sort of decision because the dependent partner has very few protections. A cohabitation agreement can create responsibilities between the spouse who continues their career and the spouse who stays home to support.
Realizing that a cohabitation agreement could protect you might motivate you to talk about one with your partner.