As recently as the mid-1990s cohabitation was practically unheard of; only 3 percent of U.S. adults did so (or at least admitted to living together). But today the share of adults ages 18 to 44 who have ever cohabitated (59 percent) has surpassed the share who has ever been married (53 percent) according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). With so many couples choosing this path either as a precursor to marriage or instead of, it’s important to understand how cohabitation agreements can help protect you and your relationship.
Cohabitation Agreements Defined
Basically, a cohabitation agreement is a contract created by an unmarried couple who are living together long term. It helps to guide their relationship and define what would happen if they eventually separate or one partner passes away. Super romantic right? These agreements typically cover:
- Estate planning considerations
- Health care decisions
- Children from previous relationships and any you may have together
Benefits of Cohabitation Agreements
While not as formal as a marriage, living together still intertwines your lives, particularly if children are involved as is the case among 54 percent of cohabiters according to Pew Research. Benefits include:
Establishing entitlement – It’s often the case that one partner moves into property owned by the other partner. In doing so, and even if you contribute to the mortgage, you have no right to that property if you separate unless such entitlement is established by way of a cohabitation agreement for example.
Reducing conflict in the relationship – Problems can arise quickly if you each have different ideas and expectations about managing finances. Agreeing to details such as how much each of you contribute to the bills as well as whether you will have joint accounts can really take the pressure off.
Protecting your future (and that of your children) – If you rely on your partner for financial support this is particularly important as should your relationship end there’s no guarantee of any kind of financial settlement. A cohabitation agreement can protect you from this uncertainty.
Making it easier to split up – This isn’t to say you’re intending to split eventually, rather it just makes each of your rights and responsibilities clearer, should that happen. And it can save you a great deal of money if legal action is needed to resolve disputes should you split and you believe you’re not receiving a fair portion the assets.
Mediating Cohabitation Agreements
You may be surprised to learn that mediation isn’t just for divorce, it can also be a great tool to help you and your partner with a cohabitation agreement. In this process you’ll work with a trained mediator who acts as a neutral third party to help you negotiate a mutual agreement in a safe, confidential space where you can discuss issues of concern regarding living together and pre-plan for various contingencies that may arise. Our services are even 100 percent virtual which gives you even more convenience and flexibility.
Interested in cohabitation agreement mediation? Learn more about Mediated Online Solutions’ services by contacting our experienced team today!