When a couple decides to solidify their relationship and live together without becoming married, one important thing to consider in the process is writing a cohabitation agreement. This form of legal document is prepared and agreed upon by both individuals and can outline the specific obligations each party has during the relationship and what should occur in the event the relationship dissolves. Once the relationship is over or a partner dies, the cohabitation agreement will clarify what should occur with the handling of property, debt, child custody, and other matters.
- The initial step in creating a cohabitation agreement is to seek out a sample of the document as a guide for pertinent categories that should be included . This can be done by performing online research through a search engine for examples of the document or by researching websites that provide samples of a cohabitation agreement.
- Once an outline is created and the categories that should be contained are agreed upon, the second consideration for preparing the cohabitation agreement is defining the individuals the document is intended for, what rights each person has, and the expectations that are to be met during the relationship or after the relationship ends for any reason. Major topics that should be included in the the agreement are the distribution of property, child custody, and what should occur in the event a partner dies.
- The third step in forming the cohabitation agreement is to outline all debts that are to be paid during and after the relationship and which debts each person is responsible for. This will provide needed clarity when paying monthly bills or any debts that are brought into the relationship.
- If the couple that decides to prepare the cohabitation agreement plan to raise children jointly during the relationship, it is important to include who will retain child custody if the relationship breaks apart. It is also important to define if any child support should be paid to the parent that retains child custody once the relationship concludes.
- The final step in preparing the cohabitation agreement is to have it notarized and signed by witnesses. Keep the document in a secure place that both parties can locate and gain access to, such as a home safe or a safety deposit box. If you choose to store the cohabitation agreement in a safety deposit box, both parties signatures should be on the ownership card so that each individual will have access to the agreement.