It is hard to ignore the fact that less people are getting married these days. In fact, only 51% of all adults choose marriage, reflecting a record low. Consequently, couples are living together in lieu of marriage. In the United States, it is reported that around 15.3 million heterosexual couples cohabitate.
There are many reasons why couples find cohabitation a better option than marriage. Some couples feel marriage is outdated and are scared of the high divorce rate. Well to do older or elderly people may find marriage a poor idea because they might lose much of their estate if a divorce occurs. Lastly, people cohabitate simply to save money or due to their beliefs.
California Cohabitation Agreements
Cohabitation occurs when two people live together, are engaged in an intimate relationship and do not have a legal commitment such as a valid marriage or recognized domestic partnership. When couples cohabitate, California law does not recognize their individual assets as community property as when two people are married. It is not hard to see that people with substantial financial assets put themselves at great risk without some sort of agreement or legal protection.
If you are in a long-term relationship and plan to share expenses, buy property together, invest together and mix assets, the best option is to protect you and your partner with a cohabitation agreement. If a problem arises in the relationship, you will both know how to split your possessions without having to follow the legal rules of divorce.
These types of agreements are governed by contract law principles alone. Therefore, it is essential to cover all aspects you want addressed because the law will not protect you in case your relationship ends. A cohabitation agreement can also give each party an idea of the expectations of the relationship with the legal enforceability to protect against financial ruin or the loss of support that was promised.
What Should be Included in a Cohabitation Agreement
Cohabitation agreements can be used for a variety of reasons and should be specifically tailored to fit the exact needs of your relationship. Most of the aspects addressed often include:
- The way certain assets are owned, including assets acquired prior to or during the relationship
- The sharing of income and expenses, if any (food, housing, utilities)
- How newly obtained assets are owned (ex: bought, inherited, gifted)
- The management of financial accounts, insurance and other policies
- Distribution of particular assets in the event of death or separation
- The process used in resolving property right disputes (ex: mediation)
Inclusion of these types of provisions can help avoid sources of conflict in your relationship and strengthen it. It is also important to revise your agreement when circumstances change.
The law encompassing cohabitation agreements can be complex, and the facts of each case are always unique. The experienced Cohabitation Agreement Attorneys at Minella Law Group will help protect your legal rights by drafting an enforceable cohabitation agreement addressing a multitude of issues to preserve your interests.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, click the button below, or call us at (619) 289-7948. We look forward to helping you.