A cohabitation agreement is an agreement executed between two parties who are living together in a romantic relationship, but who are not married. Often, parties consider these agreements when they are not sure that they will up being married and they want to establish terms that relate to property that they may be acquiring together and how that would be divided if the relationship ends.
The couple does not need to agree on everything when making a cohabitation agreement. Typically, with the help of an experienced family lawyer, an attorney can ask parties to try and agree on as many things as they can, because the more issues that are dissolved by way of the agreement, the less dispute and hardship there may be later. A cohabitation agreement can encompass a couple of property items or everything that the parties can think of to include, as it is up to the parties signing the agreement. A Virginia cohabitation agreement lawyer can be helpful in streamlining the process for any couple considering entering an agreement.
Purpose of An Agreement
A cohabitation agreement is often used when two parties are in a romantic relationship and living together, but do not have any intention in the foreseeable future of getting married. The reason it is used in Virginia is because Virginia does not recognize common law marriages. In other states, when parties are living together in a romantic relationship for a certain period of time, by operation of the law, they are considered to be married. That is not the case in Virginia.
As a result, when two people who are romantically involved and who are building a life and a household together in Virginia and they do not plan on getting married, it is important for them to enter such an agreement, because the agreement will set forth parameters about how their property is to be divided if the parties should decide to split up. If people in this kind of a situation do not have a cohabitation agreement, there is not much in the way of legal means for these parties to split up stuff if their relationship should end.
Consequences of Not Having an Agreement
If parties were cohabitating, did not have a cohabitation agreement, and split up, any properties that have title to them, such as vehicles or purchased homes, are going to be the property of the person whose name is on it. If two parties, for example, buy a house together and only one name goes onto the house, the other party is not going to have any rights to it if they split up. There is a lot to lose by one or both parties in a cohabitation arrangement if they do not put together an agreement, both in terms of losing entitlement to property and also in terms of responsibility for certain debts, like jointly held credit cards making it advisable to consult with a cohabitation agreement attorney in Virginia.
Considerations Entering into a Marriage
What happens to a cohabitation agreement once a couple gets married will depend on how the cohabitation agreement would be structured. It is a good idea if parties, after entering into a cohabitation agreement and then do get married, get a pre-marital agreement, because when two people get married, the marriage gives rise to certain legal rights in each of those parties that did not exist when they were simply cohabitating. For that reason, the parties have a choice of what they want to do. The most effective way of protecting their rights and ensuring a good outcome in the event of a subsequent divorce is to redo the agreement in the form of a pre-marital agreement, so that they can be addressing these new rights that have arisen when the marriage takes place.
Benefits of an Attorney
Agreements dealing with any topic, but particularly division of property, can be complicated. Even the most well-intentioned couples who try and put an agreement together without skilled legal help are going to leave important pieces out or potentially craft an agreement that has inconsistencies or other legal flaws that could render it unenforceable later on. If two people want to put together a cohabitation agreement that is legally enforceable and will stand the test of the time, it is important that they seek the assistance of a Virginia cohabitation agreement attorney, so they can be sure their agreement is solid and will be enforceable if the time comes that the relationship dissolves.