Cohabitation Agreements

In the early 1990s, cohabitation agreements were a popular discussion among new female college graduates due to the “Super Woman” archetype developed in the 1980s. More and more women believed they could have careers and families and that marriage wasn’t an absolute necessity to the success of either. It was a new way of thinking for young women (and men) and while prenuptial agreements were gaining in popularity, there was another type of agreement these Generation X’ers needed to better develop – the cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a pre-nup in that it spells out what happens when the parties split up. Whenever two people agree to create a joint household, there will inevitably be a co-mingling of finances and acquisition of assets. All of the things that a married couple embroiled in a divorce fight over are subjects for a cohabitation agreement, even the family dog. So, it’s vitally important that the same care and planning be taken by parties who decide to live together (indefinitely or as a prelude to an eventual marriage).

According to the Pew Research Center, the American public increasing views marriage as an obsolete institution. But, that hasn’t prevented couples from setting up a household and living like a married couple with all of the associated financial and emotional entanglements. As a result, some family law courts in the US are seeing a rush to divorce by couples who are unmarried. Peter Hamilton, a New Orleans divorce attorney recommends that “couples who are living together should know their financial situation well and exercise caution when making a commitment with another individual. He says that too often couples believe they own items that they don’t own.”

So that’s what a cohabitation agreement is designed to take care of for an unmarried couple like a prenuptial agreement is to a married couple. Seek counsel before you buy a house with your boyfriend or girlfriend. A cohabitation agreement may be the only way to protect your interests because a divorce won’t work if you never did marry.


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