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Do You Need a Cohabitation Agreement?

Posted on in Family Law

Family structures have changed significantly over the last 50 years. In fact, data from the Division of Vital Statistics suggests that more couples are shirking the idea of marriage and, instead, participating in cohabitation. Unfortunately, this can present some unique legal challenges, should the couple ever decide to split up. Learn more about protecting your assets as a cohabitating couple with help from the following information.

Cohabitation is Not Treated the Same as Marriage

Back in 1979, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that common-law marriages would not be treated the same as legal ones. This ruling extended to the division of property and other assets. Last year, the court revisited the issue and ruled in the same manner. Though the premise for doing so was different, the reasoning is nearly the same: all couples have access to legal marriage. As such, those who choose not to engage in the institution do not receive the same legal benefits (i.e. alimony, legal division of property and assets, etc.).

Failure to Plan Appropriately May Negatively Impact Your Life

Although cohabitating couples come in all types, many mingle their finances. For example, one party might contribute to the business of another, or the couple might purchase a home together using joint assets. Another challenging situation is when one party stayed home to rear children, and the other advanced their career. Upon separation, the at-home parent could be at risk for serious financial troubles.

In either case, cohabitating couples do not have legal processes to protect them or their finances. One cannot legally recover assets provided to purchase a home or start a partner's business. A disadvantaged partner cannot seek alimony or support outside of child support, should the couple split up. The only exception is if the couple had the forethought to create a cohabitation agreement. Sadly, only a small percentage do so.

Protecting Your Assets with a Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation agreement is a lot like a prenuptial agreement; it determines how assets and finances are to be handled, should a couple separate. The major difference, of course, is that the couple is not married and does not plan to marry, at present. Instead, they are focusing on protecting their assets, and each other, by creating an agreement with the understanding that they could one day be too angry to resolve matters civilly.

Getting Started on Your Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabitation agreements may not seem like a romantic way to start your life together, but they can protect both parties in the event of a separation. Further, such agreements can also protect both sides in the case of an unexpected death. The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. offers experienced assistance to those wishing to create a comprehensive cohabitation agreement. Call 630-462-9500 and schedule a consultation with our DuPage County family law attorneys to start yours today.





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