Many couples end up living together at some point to save money on rent and simply for convenience because they're together all of the time anyway. After awhile, they may end up buying furniture together and splitting the cost of utilities and other household expenses.
Too few consider drawing up a cohabitation agreement. However, if a couple has lived together and merged their finances for a period of time, a cohabitation agreement can protect them financially if they split up or if one of them passes away.
Many people balk at the idea of a cohabitation agreement for the same reason the couples hesitate to get a prenuptial agreement. They don't want to contemplate the possibility of a break-up, and assume that if they do go their separate ways, they can resolve property and other financial issues amicably.
However, things can get ugly in a break-up and people's decisions can be driven by emotion. That's why it's essential to have legal protections in place so that you don't suffer financially.
Remember that a break-up isn't the only thing that can put you at risk. What if your partner is suddenly killed in a car accident? What evidence do you have that you paid for at least half of everything the two of you own and that you're entitled to keep it?
If you and your partner have decided to live together in anticipation of one day getting married or perhaps instead of getting married at all, you should consider drawing up a cohabitation agreement. This can cover things both during the relationship and if it ends like:
-- How property, assets and debts are distributed if the relationship ends
-- What, if any, support is owed to a partner
-- Custody and visitation rights to any children you have together
Many people eschew marriage in part because they don't want the government involved in their relationship. However, without the rights that are granted to a spouse under the law, you could find yourself in serious financial turmoil if the relationship ends. That's why it's wise to consult with a family law to help protect your financial future.
Source: Findlaw, "Cohabitation Agreements," accessed Jan. 26, 2017