Long, Murphy & Zung, P.A.

Cohabitation agreements are essential for unmarried couples

We've come a long way since the 1950s and 60s when living with your girlfriend or boyfriend outside of wedlock was still taboo for most.

A recent University of North Carolina study shows that at least 70 percent of all 30- to 34-year-old women in this country have admitted to living with a significant other of the opposite sex at some point. What's concerning, though, is another statistic. At least 50 percent of all cohabitating couples eventually split up.

Clearly feelings are hurt when couples break up. What's often not discussed, though, is how living together without being married can wreak havoc on a former couples' finances. This is why many legal experts recommend that you have a cohabitation agreement drafted before you ever consider moving in with someone.

If you're living together, then it's likely that the two of you may share a bank account, both be listed on a lease or share a pet that you both dote on.

Drafting a cohabitation agreement, much like a prenuptial agreement for marrying couples, opens up a new line of communication. For one, it allows the two of you, at a happier time in your relationship, to decided what you'd want to happen with your lease, financial obligations or accounts if you were to split up. Doing so may keep you from having to fight over such matters if your relationship ends.

Cohabitation agreements can also be helpful if you plan on moving around to other states where laws having to do with unmarried couples living together may vary.

They can be used as part of the estate planning process. In most jurisdictions, if an individual dies without a will, then one's assets may be left to a spouse, children or relatives. Since you wouldn't necessarily fit any of those bills, having a cohabitation agreement in place can make transferring assets held in your partner's name more easily done.

If you want to gain a better understanding as to how drafting a cohabitation agreement may be beneficial for you, a Naples prenuptial agreement attorney can provide guidance in your case.

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