A record number of American couples have chosen to cohabitate without first becoming legally married. There are numerous benefits to such arrangements, but there are also certain legal drawbacks. The interests of each cohabitating romantic partner are not protected under the law to the same degree that the interests of spouses are. As a result, it can be difficult to ensure that property division, pet custody, debt-related responsibilities, and other considerations are dealt with fairly in the event that a cohabitation arrangement does not last forever. Similarly, it can be difficult for cohabitating romantic partners to figure out exactly how a cohabitation arrangement should progress in a fair way. Thankfully, the process of drafting a ?living together contract? with the help of an experienced family law attorney, can help to solve these legal and practical challenges.
Living Together Contracts: The Basics
In many ways, living together contracts function much as prenuptial agreements do. When many engaged couples begin preparing for the legal realities of marriage, they consider the pros and cons of working with an attorney in order to draft a prenuptial agreement. In addition to providing these couples with certain protections in the event that they should ever decide to separate, the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement tends to help engaged couples sort through their priorities and expectations in advance of their transition to married life. It is in this way that the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement can help to strengthen a couple?s bond, as it compels each future spouse to work through certain contentious issues upfront. As a result, couples may fight less over time and struggle with less underlying tension because they have worked out many challenging issues early in their relationships.
Creating a living together contract can help to strengthen cohabitating relationships and protect the interests of each partner according to what matters to each individual couple. These contracts are treated differently by various states, so it is important to work with an experienced attorney when drawing one up. Failure to obtain legal guidance can result in a contract that is ultimately unenforceable. In addition, just as it is with prenuptial agreements, it is generally a good idea for each partner to have a separate attorney (invested in their interests alone) glance over the final product before it is signed, simply to ensure that the terms are fair and that the contract is likely to be upheld in court, should it ever be challenged by either partner or a third-party.
Legal Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about cohabitation agreements or would like to begin the process of drafting one with your romantic partner, please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced family lawyer Frisco, TX trusts today. It can be tempting to put this kind of non-urgent legal action off, but the earlier you attend to this process, the earlier you can gain peace of mind that your interests are protected and your expectations are clearly defined.
Scroggins Law Group, PLLC for their insight into family law and ?living together? contracts.
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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