As our population ages, a greater number of unmarried couples are living together with no intention of marriage. While Prenuptial Agreements are available for couples who intend to be married and Separation Agreements for couples who intend to divorce, Cohabitation Agreements have become the vehicle of choice for those living without the benefit of wedlock. Since the unwed couple basically has rights against them to cohabitate, they need the Agreement to clarify their positions. The New York courts will enforce validly executed Cohabitation Agreements, which are used to protect the couples legal and property interests.
As with all other Agreements, there should be a complete disclosure by each participant of their respective assets. Each party should be represented by separate counsel.
There are many issues, which should be addressed in a Cohabitation Agreement, including:
- What will happen to the rights and interests of each party acquired during the non-marital cohabitation if the parties later marry?
- How will property be divided in the event the relationship breaks up?
- What will happen to jointly owned property on the death of one of the cohabitants?
- Will one cohabitant have the right to make medical decisions for the other by means of a health care proxy, if the other becomes ill?
- Who will pay what bills and how much will each contribute for day to day living expenses?
- What will happen in the event of the birth of a child to one of the parties?
- Will the parties register under the Domestic Partnership statute in New York?
- Will the parties execute a Will with the other as beneficiary?
- Will the cohabitants make the other a beneficiary under a life insurance policy?