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A brief introduction to cohabitation agreements

Marriage extends a number of legal obligations and rights to couples across Charlotte, North Carolina, and the entire country. Many other couples, however, are not entitled to any legal protections in the event of death or separation for the simple fact that they are not married under the law. In these cases, heterosexual and same-sex couples can often prevent a number of family law issues by establishing a legally binding cohabitation agreement.

According to USA Today, the number of legal disputes between former unmarried partners is on the rise. The increase in post-breakup legal issues is largely attributed to the fact that more couples than ever before are choosing to live together before or instead of getting married. It is currently estimated that over 60 percent of couples live together prior to marriage. Given that the number of people choosing to delay marriage until around the age of 30 is also on the rise, many cohabitating couples have higher incomes and larger amounts of property prior to getting married. All of these factors are believed to contribute to issues like property division at the time of separation.

A cohabitation agreement is described by the American Bar Association as one way for nonmarried couples to account for their legal rights and obligations in the event that their relationship ends. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a written contract that outlines each partner’s rights and responsibilities upon death or the end of the relationship. The agreement can account for any children or heirs in the family, as well as establish stipulations for the enforcement of the contract. Beyond that, a legally binding cohabitation agreement can cover everything from the distribution of property to whether and how the contract can be modified.