Are you planning on living with your partner in Greenville, South Carolina? As more couples choose to move in with their partners before they get married, more couples might be wondering about how they can take steps to protect their rights and clarify responsibilities in their relationship. Marriage grants individuals in the relationship certain rights that include the right to inherit property should one partner die, and the right to shared property and assets acquired during the marriage. Cohabitating couples don’t share the same rights. This is why many couples are choosing to design cohabitation agreements that clarify issues that could potentially arise when couples choose to live together. What issues can arise?
If you were to split up with your partner, do you know who will get to keep the apartment if you rent? If you have a pet together, do you know who will have custody of the pet? If you share debts or purchase a car or home together, how would you split assets if you were to split up? If one of you were to get seriously ill, are there documents in place that would give your partner the right to make important legal decisions on your behalf? A cohabitation agreement can address all these issues and more. The Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC is a family law firm in Greenville, South Carolina that may be able to help you ask these tough questions, and draft a cohabitation agreement that can work for you and your family.
What You Can Include in a Cohabitation Agreement
The benefit of a cohabitation agreement is that couples get to decide what they include and exclude in the agreement. When a couple gets married, all property acquired by the couple after the marriage date is generally considered marital property. Because similar laws don’t govern cohabitating couples, couples themselves get to decide how much or how little they want to intermingle their financial lives. Some key issues that couples might choose to address in a cohabitation agreement involves shared and separate property, shared and separate debts, each partner’s financial contribution and responsibilities, pets, inheritance, and medical advanced directives. Here are more details on each of these.
- Property. When a couple moves in together, each partner may bring his or her own separate property to the home. The couple may choose to purchase a car together, or they may rent an apartment. Whatever arrangement is right for you, couples might choose to specify which important property belongs to which partner. If you have important family heirlooms you want to keep, these could be noted in a cohabitation agreement as belonging to you. If you plan to make purchases together, a cohabitation agreement can clarify how shared property will be divided should you split up. If you rent an apartment together, the cohabitation agreement can make clear who can remain in the apartment if you were to break up. Finally, if one of you owns a home or car, and the other partner contributes payments to the home or car, a cohabitation agreement can either make clear that this is separate property or outline the rights that the other party has to the property.
- Debts. Some couples take out a joint credit card account, or share a bank account. If you plan to comingle assets or debts, outlining how these debts will be handled should you split up could protect your rights.
- Responsibilities. Each partner might make different financial contributions to bills and expenses. Some couples split expenses down the middle, but if there is a difference in income, some couples might choose to split expenses in accordance with what each partner can pay. A cohabitation agreement can make clear each party’s responsibility to the relationship and to expenses.
- Pets. Pets are considered property under the law. Unless there is a clear agreement about who will keep a shared pet, the person on the adoption papers might be the pet’s owner. Cohabitation agreements can often address who will keep a pet should there be a breakup and cohabitation agreements can address visitation.
- Inheritance. If you want your partner to inherit your property after you pass away, this can also be addressed in a cohabitation agreement.
- Health Decisions. Cohabitation agreements aren’t just there to protect your property should you break up. A cohabitation agreement can also protect you and your partner should the unforeseen happen. If one of you gets so sick you cannot make medical or financial decisions for yourself, a cohabitation agreement may grant your partner the right to make these decisions.
These are just some of the issues a cohabitation agreement can address. When you choose to live with your partner, there are many aspects of your lives you might join together. Having frank discussions about expectations can help each party understand their rights and responsibilities and give both parties peace of mind. The Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys is a family law firm in Greenville, South Carolina that may be able to assist you if you have questions about a cohabitation agreement. Contact our firm today to learn more or reach out to USAttorneys.com to get connected with a lawyer at our firm today.