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Cohabitation agreements: Yay or nay?

Prenuptial agreements are common for couples who are about to get married and want some type of document that outlines how property will be divided -- among other things -- in the event of a divorce. In today's day and age, however, more couples in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S. are actually living together for years before marriage, some without the intent to ever get married.

While not all couples would like to have some form of an agreement that would outline how everything works in a partnership while they live together, there is an option for these couples to protect their investments: cohabitation agreements.

A cohabitation agreement is similar to that of a prenuptial agreement except that it is for unmarried couples that are living together with no particular interest in or the inability to get married in the near future if at all. This type of agreement can outline a number of stipulations of a relationship from who does the dishes and takes out the trash to who buys groceries and who pays the bills. A cohabitation agreement can also outline which individual in the relationship keeps what should the couple separate down the road.

Many Pennsylvania couples may not think they need such an agreement or do not want one. However, as more and more couples live together longer, they combine more of their finances, property and responsibilities. Couples who live together longer often behave as a married couple; for example, one partner may support the other while obtaining further education. Cohabitation agreements are becoming more popular as more couples feel the need to protect themselves in a relationship in the event that the couple splits.

Source: TMJ4, "Cohabitation agreements: Unromantic or realistic?" Steve Chamraz and Stephanie Graham, May 15, 2012

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