Over 5.4 million U.S. couples, or 10.8 million individuals, were living together without being married to one another in 2000, and the number has grown since then. Cohabitation often serves as a way for two people to focus on the factors that make their relationship work or to avoid certain legal or financial problems that may result from a marriage.
However, cohabitation alone may not be enough to protect your rights or the rights of your partner – such as the right to make important medical decisions for one another, to handle one another’s finances or other needs, or to inherit from one another. For legal purposes, your partner may be treated like any other stranger, no matter how long you’ve been together.
One way to address this problem is through a cohabitation agreement. When you create a cohabitation agreement, both you and your partner can focus on the issues that matter most in your specific situation. For instance, your agreement may address ownership of a home, vehicle, or other items you have purchased together. If you have children together, it can address questions of custody and support. It can also be used as part of a comprehensive estate plan to address inheritance issues.
New Jersey marriage law provides a host of protections to spouses. When you marry, your spouse is automatically treated as your closest living relative in a wide range of situations. However, not all people who live together want to or can marry. A cohabitation agreement can provide many of the same protections as a marriage without the requirement of becoming married to one another.
To learn more, contact family law attorney Lois Garber Schwartz today at 856.375.8989 or via our online contact form.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.