Considering a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement certainly does not mean you believe your relationship will ultimately fail. These documents are simply, contracts with the purpose eliminating financial and social concerns, perhaps even enabling your relationship to flourish.
In today’s society, for many people, establishment of a cohabitation agreement is of prime importance. Not having such an agreement in place between life partners can have a significant and lasting negative impact on both members of the relationship. The financial health of the relationship as well as other matters hangs on considering the questions brought up by such an agreement. Partners who fail to establish cohabitation agreements typically find themselves in long and very expensive mediation and litigation situations.
A cohabitation agreement is a written agreement or contract entered into by life partners before living together in a permanent relationship. Florida courts will recognize properly written cohabitation agreements. There are numerous court cases where the cohabitation agreements have been enforced and upheld on appeal.
During the relationship, a range of financial and property issues may arise which can be addressed in advance by the cohabitation agreement. In the unfortunate event the relationship should end in an untimely manner, the agreement will be able to provide for the protection of both parties, leaving no need for unpleasantness or ill-will. Addressing such issues before a need to address arises or there is tension, stress and strain, is a good way to relieve stress on what may already be a taxing relationship, thus allowing both parties to get on with building and enjoying the relationship.
Most recently the news stations have focused on same sex relationships and the impending financial and legal difficulties faced by same sex partners in most cases following a separation. Due to the media exposure people have no issue understanding why gay couples, or even non-gay but same sex life partners, would have an interest in cohabitation agreements. Cohabitation agreements extend to much more than just same sex life partners, they also can useful for unmarried life partners. The term “life partner” encompasses a very broad selection of today’s society. These ‘life partners’ can be a child living with and tending to the needs of an aging parent for example. In another instance, it could simply be two people of the same or different sexes, each of whom have permanently taken upon themselves a partnership with the other for whatever reason.
The key for ascertaining the need for a cohabitation agreement revolves around one simple question. Do these parties intend on remaining in this situation for a long or extended term. If the answer is YES, then a cohabitation agreement is the easiest, simplest and fairest way to protect your rights.
While the cohabitation agreement does address many important matters concerning finances and property during the relationship and upon its possible dissolution, there are other issues not specifically covered by a cohabitation agreement alone.
For example, there will be questions of finances, health care, property rights, and after-death issues which will fall outside the scope of the cohabitation agreement. Any married couple concerned about their futures and those of their family would address these issues by the preparation of legal forms such as quitclaim deeds, last will and testament, power of attorney, and a living will or living trust. It would be in the best interests of life partners to also consider the same issues in addition to the matters covered in a cohabitation agreement. Life partners do not always have the same protections under the law as those enjoyed by a typical married couple. This makes it especially important for life partners to be even more diligent in preparing in advance for all eventualities.
The Daniels Law Firm recommends that all same-sex life partners in Florida, should have the following five (5) legal documents, in addition to a cohabitation agreement, at a very minimum: