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No relationship is the same, so it makes sense that marriage isn’t everyone’s goal. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other legal contracts that could help you and your partner hold up to each other’s expectations.

Some choose not to marry due to religious reasons. Some feel like if they were able to live with each other long-term already, then there is no need to have a paper make their connection official. If you fit into one of these categories, then a cohabitation agreement could help you protect your children and divide property and responsibilities.

Property division

Like most of us, you probably had some assets to your name before meeting your loved one, and you’ve probably continued to buy high-ticket items you consider to be your own. Chances are you’ve also taken pleasure investing in joint purchases with your partner.

In a cohabitation agreement you can decide how to classify all property. For example, if you’ve purchased a home together, then you can have in writing that both you and your partner own 50% of it. Or say you bought yourself a new car during your relationship, then you can decide to list this kind of purchase as separate property.

Financial contributions

Akin to married couples, you have the option to have individual and/or joint bank accounts. Unfortunately, no matter how financially stable couples are, financial decisions can still stir up drama. For instance, you might not like that you have to constantly be paying for all household bills from your own account, even if it’s feasible. To combat this, you can make a legal commitment to split expenses evenly or keep all your income in one place. In either case, you won’t have to constantly be stressing about who pays for what.

Protect your children

Maybe you have children, maybe you don’t. Either way, having a cohabitation agreement can help you devise a plan for how the division of assets and property will carry out if you ever separate from your partner. In turn, this can create ease as you phase out of caring for your children under one roof with joint resources.

It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to include terms for child custody or support within a cohabitation agreement.

Seeking legal guidance from a family law attorney can help you determine if your relationship would benefit from a cohabitation agreement.