Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cohabitation agreements - reading around the web

Living together or cohabitation gets more attention from the press. Here are some highlights.

The has an article Look Before you Leap with a list of six things to do before moving in:

1. Be very clear about what you expect. Do you see cohabitation as a trial that will help you decide about marriage? You should both have a clear sense of what moving in together means to each of you.

2. Live together because your relationship is going well, not to try to make it better. Similarly, don’t marry your cohabiting partner because you hope marriage will change her.

3. Agree on a “living together agreement” to help clarify your expectations and define how you’ll handle finances and property.

4.Take a couples’ education class before or during cohabitation. Research suggests it helps with conflict resolution.

5. Use birth control. It’s a lot more fun and romantic to get married because you want to, not because you accidentally get pregnant.

6. If you’re planning to get married, talk about what will change and what will stay the same. Talk about marriage with people whom you respect who have been married a long time. published this article - Prepare Yourself: Pre-Marital and Pre-Cohabitation Agreements - that has a bit to say from a from New Jersey viewpoint generally but I do think this part is applicable wherever anyone thinks about a cohabitation agreement:
Because pre-marital and pre-cohabitation agreements anticipate and attempt to resolve issues that may arise between two people if their relationship were to end prior to such an end, such agreements are advantageous to people facing a dissolution of their relationship. They clearly lay out the intentions of the parties concerning their finances and property, and can avoid the tensions and uncertainties inherent in negotiating a settlement agreement incident to a dissolution.

On the other side of the country, the Montecito Journal published an article entitled Cohabitation Raises Legal Issues. That article raises some of the usual points (and some Ihave made in earlier posts here) but does raise one that has been on my mind lately:

The major elements of a living-together agreement should include property ownership and property rights, inheritance rights and support. Like a business agreement, property ownership should address the issues of title and division of ownership interests, credit toward future property interests created by contributions to property, the rights of the parties in the event they choose to dissolve the partnership, and, equally important, inheritance rights.

Inheritance rights are a particularly sticky issue, since state intestacy laws have been written to favor a blood family member, never an unmarried partner. Therefore, a valid will and/or living trust are a must if the partners intend to pass on property to each other at death.

Further out on the web can be found good advice. Although you must remember that Indiana does not have common law marriage or any legislation protecting unmarried persons living together.

From Canada: Cohabitation Agreements

From the UK: Q&A: living together agreements
Cohabiting couples warned to protect their property rights
But where a cohabiting couple live in a home in only one partner's name, the law lords said, the presumption or starting point is that the other partner is not entitled to a share at all.
I would say the UK position is very close to Indiana's position.

No comments: