Domestic Partnership Agreements - Cohabitation Agreements
A Domestic Partnership Agreement, sometimes known as a Cohabitation Agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the rights and obligations of two individuals who intend to reside together but either do not wish to or are legally prevented from marrying each other. In Florida, Domestic Partnership Agreements seek to protect the financial interests of both partners and are especially important if they intend to bring children into the relationship. Domestic Partnership Agreements are most commonly used for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered couples (GLBT), but are also used for heterosexual couples who intend to reside together but not to marry.
Florida Domestic Partnership Agreements generally include provisions relating to the joint ownership of real estate or other assets, how gifts between the partners will be divided in the event of a split, the overall rights and obligations of each partner in the event of death or a termination of the relationship, whether any monthly payments will be made to either partner after the partnership ends, and issues involving life insurance. In Florida, Domestic Partnership Agreements cannot be enforced through the Family Court system; however they are enforceable through the Civil Courts under breach of contract theories. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, domestic partners may register their partnership with the clerk of court for official recognition.
Other legal issues that can arise for couples who reside together but are not married include medical and life insurance issues, estate planning documents such as a Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney documents allowing a partner to make medical, legal or financial decisions in the event of the other partner’s incapacity, and Advance Medical Directive forms that sets forth medical decisions in the event of terminal illness or injury. When there is no legal or biological relationship between individuals, hospitals and health care providers may deny access to the patient without these forms having been executed beforehand. Setting forth the domestic partners’ benefits, rights and obligations in advance can go a long way to insuring the partners’ intentions are honored by third parties.
Vari & Associates, LLC.
The foregoing guide was published to inform and not advise individuals about Florida family laws. The guide was authored by Attorney Lisa Marie Vari of the Miami, FL family law firm of Vari & Associates, LLC.