Maybe you and your significant other have decided to take the next step in your relationship and move in together. You may have no plans to marry. Perhaps you and your partner have been living together for a while. You’ve decided you like this arrangement and see no reason to get married.
It might be time to get a cohabitation agreement. North Dakota law recognizes cohabitation agreements that detail “the rights, duties, and obligations of each party and the modalities for sharing properties jointly owned by the couples in the event of death or separation.”
If this is a long-term, committed relationship, you should probably put some estate planning documents in place as well. Here we’ll just focus on the cohabitation agreement.
What can an agreement cover?
A cohabitation agreement is somewhat like a prenuptial agreement and can address many of the same things as well as some additional items. Often, cohabitation agreements include provisions on things like:
- Which assets and debts each of you brought into the relationship and will remain separate if you split
- How shared assets will be divided if the relationship (or the cohabitation) ends
- How you will share income and savings
- How expenses and debts will be shared
- Any support one person will pay the other if the relationship ends
Unlike with a marriage, you don’t have state family law statutes for a court to use if you’re unable to agree on these things. That’s why a cohabitation agreement may be an even more crucial document to have than a prenup.
A cohabitation agreement can save you time, money and stress
The break-up of a non-marital relationship doesn’t have to involve any kind of legal process like a divorce. However, if you can’t resolve these issues, you could find yourself in court fighting with your ex.
A cohabitation agreement can prevent that – saving you time and money and letting you move on more easily. If you do decide to get married, your cohabitation agreement can serve as a template for your prenup.
Like a prenup, a cohabitation agreement shouldn’t be a do-it-yourself operation. You can outline the kinds of things you want to address. However, it’s wise to each have your own legal representation to ensure that the document is legally sound and that your rights are protected.