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Effective and Enforceable Cohabitation Agreements Are a Smart Option

Couples are choosing to live together without getting married at rates higher than they’ve ever been, but not enough individuals worry about protecting their property and rights if a cohabitation relationship ends or becomes adversarial. A legal cohabitation agreement can help both individuals feel more comfortable as they take this next step in their relationship.

A cohabitation agreement can encompass several potential issues: 

  • A typical cohabitation agreement explains the terms that both parties plan to abide by for as long as they live together.
  • It also specifies how property will be divided if the couple should break up or move into separate residences.
  • Both parties should also fully disclose their assets to avoid unintentional omissions in the agreement. The document may also include information about each party’s individual property, which is considered separate from any community property they own jointly.
  • It can also clarify that the couple agrees they are not entering into a common-law marriage, which can be very important and save much stress, time and money if one party eventually makes such a claim.

To be valid, a cohabitation agreement must be fully understood by both parties at the time of signing. Therefore, each party should be represented by their own legal counsel to ensure that the document protects both parties’ rights and best interests.

Why consider cohabitation agreements in Texas?

The laws in the state of Texas consider property acquired during a marriage to be owned equally by both parties, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. However, this legal principle does not extend to couples who are not married. Folks come to us to consider a cohabitation agreement for many reasons, but one big reason has to do with assets like real estate. Avoiding real estate mistakes early in a marriage or during a long-term relationship can often lead to a stronger bond.

For example, if a couple has been living together for an extended period of time and one partner has been making mortgage payments on a house that is in the other partner’s name, the non-property-owning partner may have limited rights to claim a share of the equity in the home if they are not legally married. Similarly, if a couple has been living together for a long period of time and one partner provided financial support to the other, there is no legal obligation for ongoing financial support after the relationship ends.

This can be particularly difficult for individuals who have been in a long-term relationship and have children together, as they may not be able to claim spousal support or maintenance payments after the relationship ends, unlike married couples who can seek such payments through the court system. To establish rights similar to those enjoyed by married couples, unmarried parties may choose to enter into a cohabitation agreement.

At Hargrave Family Law, we can help you evaluate whether a cohabitation agreement is right for you. To find out if a cohabitation agreement is a valid option for your situation, reach out to us at Hargrave Family Law today.