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How can cohabitation agreements help Gig Harbor couples?

It is often advisable for couples in Gig Harbor contemplating marriage to enter into a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle. However, what about couples who live together, but have no intention of marrying? Is there a way they can protect their financial interests if they later break up?

For some couples in the above situation, entering into a cohabitation agreement may be wise. Like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement can lay out how the couple's property and debts will be divided if they break up. A cohabitation agreement may also have provisions regarding financial support both while the couple is in a relationship together or should the couple break up. In addition, if a couple shares a home, a cohabitation agreement can have provisions that assign each partner as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship with regards to the property. By doing so, if one partner dies, the other partner will still own the home.

If an unmarried couple have children together, a cohabitation agreement can address the issue of child custody and visitation. However, a court still retains the right to determine what is in the child's best interests, and can order a different child custody and visitation arrangement if necessary. Finally, through a cohabitation agreement, a couple can include provisions creating health care directives that permit each partner to make medical decisions for the other partner if that partner becomes incapacitated.

Unlike a prenuptial agreement which stays in effect throughout a couple's marriage, if a cohabitating couple later marries, then the cohabitation agreement will no longer be in effect. Therefore, couples in such situations may still end up creating a prenuptial agreement. Either way, a couple wishing to create a cohabitation agreement or a prenuptial agreement may want to each consult with an attorney, to ensure the agreement they create is fair and enforceable.

Source: FindLaw, "Validity of Living Together Contracts," accessed Jan. 30, 2017

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