Cohabitation Agreements

A cohabitation agreement is a type of domestic contract between two unmarried people who are cohabiting or who intend to cohabit. It is a useful tool for setting out the parties’ rights and obligations during the time they are living together, and for outlining how matters will be settled if the parties decide to stop cohabiting.

Cohabitation agreements can cover issues of ownership in or division of property, support obligations, or other matters as agreed upon by the parties. There is one exception to this: any decisions regarding custody or access to children cannot be decided until a couple decides to separate. However, parties can decide on their children’s education and moral upbringing in advance through a cohabitation agreement.

If parties decide to get married after signing a cohabitation agreement, their cohabitation agreement will automatically be considered a marriage contract. Parties may also enter into a marriage contract after they have married.

Some people wonder if there is a benefit to retaining a lawyer to help with their cohabitation agreement. While parties may come to an agreement on their own, enlisting a lawyer’s services in the preparation of a cohabitation agreement can protect the agreement from challenge in the event of a dispute.

At Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, our firm has extensive experience negotiating cohabitation agreements on behalf of our clients. We start by meeting with our clients to determine their goals and interests. We then proceed by obtaining full disclosure from the parties involved. Incomplete financial disclosure and a lack of independent legal advice are two of the most common reasons why domestic contracts are voided. After the agreement is drafted, we communicate with the client and the other party’s lawyer and make any necessary changes, as instructed by our client.

What happens if one of the parties does not follow the terms of the agreement? In these cases, the party seeking to enforce the agreement can file the agreement with the court, in order to have the agreement enforced, varied, or set aside. There is a high threshold for having an agreement set aside once it has been signed, and an experienced family law lawyer can simplify this process for you.