Learn more about cohabitation agreements
If you and your significant other decide to live together and share a life as domestic partners, you might want to create a cohabitation agreement to formalize your responsibilities. Because unmarried couples don't enjoy the same legal protections as married couples, a contract can formalize the arrangement while protecting each person's rights.
Some people might call this document a:
Who should use this form?
- Cohabitation contract
- Living together agreement
- Nonmarital contract
- Living-together contract
Use this form if you plan to share a home with a significant other. You might have already agreed to specific responsibilities and financial obligations, but if you formalize those decisions in writing you may be less likely to have misunderstandings later.
You can use the “living together” version of this agreement or a similar document if you're moving in with someone other than a domestic partner and plan to share expenses. What to include in a cohabitation agreement
Each agreement will be unique, depending upon what you and your partner want to cover. But this agreement should include as many details as possible about your responsibilities.
As you draft your agreement, you will need to decide how you will split expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, and entertainment. For instance, you might split all expenses down the middle, or you might agree on a percentage split. Some couples agree to make one person responsible for homemaking, while the other earns the main source of income.
You can also use your cohabitation agreement to designate whether you will keep any property as separate property. Your agreement can specify the types of property you wish to keep separate if you stop living together.
Additionally, your agreement can include a provision for how you will own property you acquire once you begin living together and how that property should be divided if you end your relationship.
Finally, decide how you will handle any disputes that arise if you stop living together. For instance, you can agree to seek counseling or attend mediation to resolve those disagreements.Next steps
You don't have to file your agreement with a government agency, but it’s a good idea for each party to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer before signing. Both parties must sign the cohabitation agreement, and person should keep a separate copy in a safe place. If you part ways, you will have the agreement to use as a guide for ending your arrangement.
In a domestic partnership, you might also consider drafting or updating other estate planning documents, such as your wills, power of attorneys, and healthcare directives.