We often hear of prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements that couples enter into before they get married. There is a version of this that applies to couples who are not marrying but are romantically living together. It is called a cohabitation agreement, and it has been increasingly popular in recent years.
If you are interested in creating a cohabitation agreement in Colorado, these things are what you need to know.
What Is A Cohabitation Agreement? Is It Legal?
Simply put, a cohabitation agreement is a “living together” contract. In it, you and your partner can specify both your legal rights and obligations in the relationship. The document can also outline how the two of you have agreed to handle certain foreseeable issues such as:
- Individual assets and debts
- Joint assets and debts
- Child custody and child support
- Distribution of property in the event of a breakup
- Financial support in the event of a breakup.
Colorado courts have not specifically decided on the legality of cohabitation agreements. In general, however, such a document is legally binding and enforceable in the state if it meets the standards of any legal contract. Those standards include being fairly and freely entered and being signed in writing.
Differences Between A Cohabitation Agreement And A Prenup
Apart from the obvious difference that only marrying couples can enter a prenuptial agreement, these are some of the technical distinctions between a prenup and a cohabitation agreement:
- Practically all jurisdictions recognize prenups, but not all states recognize cohabitation agreements.
- A cohabitation contract cannot be used as a prenuptial contract if the couple decides to wed. They can only use the cohabitation document as a basis for their prenup.
- Once the couple marries, their prenuptial agreement overrides any preexisting cohabitation contract.
Why A Cohabitation Agreement Could Be Vital For You
As more and more couples opt to live together instead of marrying, we learn more about the legal vulnerabilities of each unmarried partner.
Typically, they would jointly acquire properties such as their house, furniture, and electronics. In a marriage, these properties would be considered marital assets and can be divided fairly. But this legal protection is not available to unmarried partners. A similar protection for them would be a cohabitation contract outlining the fair distribution of joint properties.
A live-in agreement is also valuable if the unmarried couple has a child. Since the parents’ relationship is not recognized by law, they will want to set up a cohabitation contract to legally protect their child from issues down the road. The agreement can specify each partner’s parental rights and obligations during the relationship. It can also outline child custody and child support arrangements in the event that the relationship ends.
How To Make An Effective Cohabitation Contract
Creating a cohabitation agreement can be as easy as downloading a free template online and filling in the blanks with your partner. But if you want a contract that is tailored to your particular relationship, perceptive of potential legal issues, and completely fair to you and your partner, it is best to craft the document with a lawyer’s guidance.
We at Goldman Law can help you craft an effective, legally sound cohabitation agreement for your relationship. We are also ready to answer your questions about this type of contract. You can speak directly with one of our experienced family law attorneys. Call us today.