two girls sitting on couch

Romantic or platonic relationships can be important and long-lasting, regardless of the legal status of the partnership. Some couples do not want to be married for a variety of reasons but still wish to live together, and some friends may have the same desire. Cohabitation agreements can benefit partners who want to live together but are not legally bound by marriage. Speak with a skilled York County, PA family law attorney to discuss your options for a cohabitation agreement.

What are Cohabitation Agreements?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract generally between two people who live together but are not married. It can be written by the couple themselves or with the help of an attorney and it should be notarized. The purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to establish an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of either party. This contract can be beneficial during the relationship and if the two decide to separate. It can outline financial obligations, custody agreements, medical information, funeral requests, and more.

Who Needs a Cohabitation Agreement?

The most common users of cohabitation agreements are romantic couples who do not wish to be married. However, a platonic relationship can also benefit from a contract of this nature. In general, a pair who plans on living together permanently or for an extensive period should consider a cohabitation agreement. Roommate contracts are also legally binding and can help, but they typically focus on the lease agreement. Cohabitation agreements take it a step further by outlining the couple’s finances and obligations to one another. If you live with a partner but are not legally married, you should look into a cohabitation agreement to protect your assets and finances.

Ideally, you would draw up and sign your contract before you move in. However, this may not be realistic for many reasons. You may already live with a friend before you decide to make it permanent, or want to test how your relationship withstands sharing a space before entering into anything legally binding.

What Should be Included in the Contract?

You can essentially put whatever you want in your cohabitation contract. You should be as detailed as possible, but typically a cohabitation agreement will include the following line items and more.

  • Who is named on the lease or deed to the property?
  • Who is financially responsible for rent or mortgage payments?
  • Is property bought before the relationship began considered joint or separate?
  • Is property acquired during the relationship considered joint or separate?
  • Are gifts or inheritance considered joint or separate?
  • Are finances expected to be combined entirely?
  • Who is responsible for certain expenses?
  • Are financial obligations split 50/50 or proportionately to either party’s income?
  • If the relationship ends how will property be distributed?
  • If the relationship ends will one party owe monetary support to the other? If so, for how long?
  • If the relationship ends how will custody work for any children or pets?

The more specific you are in your contract the better. Being detailed will help you avoid conflict and arguments later. It is important to note that while the contract is legally admissible, child custody arrangements may be subject to adjustment by a court.