Not all partners choose to marry, and many California couples cohabitate without entering into a legally binding marriage. If you live with your partner, you could still benefit from a contract that addresses what would happen in the event the relationship ends in the future.

A cohabitation agreement, which some people may call a living together agreement or nonmarital agreement, protects your property rights and your financial interests in case you and your partner choose to no longer live together. It can also allow you to outline the rights and responsibilities of each partner during the course of the relationship. If you are not married but living with a person in a committed relationship, this type of legal contract could be a smart step for you.

What does a nonmarital agreement do?

This type of agreement is similar in many ways to a prenuptial agreement. You can address property division and other factors in case you and your partner split. When properly drafted, your agreement is legally binding and could save you time, money and stress over certain issues. A nonmarital agreement can address matters like:

  • Gifts or inheritances that one or both parties accumulate while the couple is living together
  • Property purchased by the couple over the course of their relationship
  • Individual property owned or purchased by one party before the relationship began
  • How the couple will pay expenses and debts while they are living together
  • Property division and financial matters in the event that one party dies

Couples who choose not to marry can still make the choice to protect their financial and legal interests. Through a cohabitation or living together agreement, you may be able to help ensure that you do not have to walk through any unnecessary legal disputes in the future. It is always worthwhile to fully explore the legal ways you can shield yourself and your future stability.

Before you sign on the dotted line

Before you sign an agreement or draft a nonmarital agreement, it is beneficial to be fully aware of your legal options and your rights. Many people find it helpful to seek a complete evaluation of their cases in order to learn more about the various legal options available.

Regardless of the nature of your relationship or your intent to marry at some point in the future, a cohabitation agreement could be the right step for you. Legal agreements are serious, and careful consideration is smart as you move forward with any type of contract.