Cohabitation Agreements and Property: Info for Unmarried Couples

By Henry F. Lewis on July 30, 2018

House and weighing balance scalesIf you have lived with the same person for years yet are not married, you may want to look into a cohabitation agreement. These kinds of legal agreements can strengthen a long-term committed relationship while offering some legal protections as the relationship continues or if you break up.

The team at our Oakland, CA law firm would like to go over some of the basics of cohabitation agreements, particularly where they relate to property. This information may be helpful to your current living arrangement.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement defines the rights and responsibilities of a unmarried couple that have been living together for some time. This is not necessary in all cases when a couple moves in together, but it can be a way to reduce the emotional and financial fallout of a difficult breakup.

How Cohabitation Agreements Relate to Property

If a couple has been together for several years, they are likely to have accumulated a fair amount of property together. This might include buying an apartment or a house, shared purchases like televisions or kitchen equipment, and even physical media such as books, records, and collectibles.

Cohabitation agreements will typically address the following topics:

  • Ownership of assets and debts
  • If the couples shares income
  • Ownership of any new assets
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Insurance policies
  • Distribution of assets and debts if the relationship ends

How Cohabitation Agreements Can Help

Say that an unmarried couple decides to purchase a house move in together. One member of the couple puts in more money than the other person for the down payment. The relationship eventually ends, but there is a dispute over who gets the house, or who receives what share if the house is sold.

By consulting the cohabitation agreement, these conflicts can be easily resolved. There is no need for a lengthy court battle since matters are spelled out clearly from the outset. The same can be applied to all other assets accumulated by the couple during their time together. Income disparities among the members of the relationship can also be factored into the cohabitation agreement, allowing for a fair resolution to any disputes that occur.

What Might Happen without a Cohabitation Agreement

If there is no cohabitation agreement, you could wind up in a lengthy and costly legal battle with your former partner over the division or property. This sometimes happens if breakups are fraught. Emotions can run high in such situations, and without legal protections in place ahead of time, the legal battle after the end of a relationship can be a major hassle.

Should My Partner and I Consider a Cohabitation Agreement?

That is something you and your partner should discuss if you intend to move in with one another. In fact, if you are purchasing any type of real estate property with your partner and are not married, a cohabitation agreement is an especially important consideration.

If you are interested in learning more about cohabitation agreements, we would be more than happy to discuss them with you and your partner in person. We’ll have detailed information that addresses your specific concerns.

Contact Experienced Family Law Attorneys

For more information about your legal rights and options regarding cohabitation and property you own, be sure to contact the legal team at Gardner & Lewis, LLP. We are here to offer answers to your questions, as well as insight into your needs.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822