The Essential Guide to Cohabitation Agreements in New Jersey

By Lois G. Schwartz | September 14, 2023

The Essential Guide to Cohabitation Agreements in New Jersey

Cohabitation has seen a steady rise over the past few decades, reflecting a societal shift in how relationships are viewed and structured. As more couples opt for this type of arrangement, the need for a legal framework to protect mutual interests becomes even more pertinent. A cohabitation agreement offers a practical solution, but what does it entail, and how can you create one? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essentials.

Why is Cohabitation Alone Not Sufficient?

Sharing a life with someone is a meaningful commitment, but it doesn’t automatically grant any legal protections or rights. In the absence of a legal framework, your long-term partner could be legally treated no differently than a mere acquaintance. Whether it’s making life-altering medical decisions or managing joint finances, the law might not recognize your relationship the way you do.

In New Jersey, state marriage laws offer an array of protections to married individuals. For instance, your spouse automatically becomes your closest living relative in legal terms. However, if you’ve opted to cohabit without marriage, these protections aren’t available to you.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document that can be customized to fit the unique circumstances of your relationship. It can address a multitude of issues, ranging from:

  • Ownership Matters: Who owns the house you live in? What about the car you jointly purchased or the furniture that adorns your home?
  • Child-Related Issues: If you have children, the agreement can delineate aspects like custody, visitation rights, and child support.
  • Financial Responsibilities: The arrangement can specify how you and your partner will handle daily expenses, joint accounts, and other financial matters.
  • Estate Planning: A well-crafted cohabitation agreement can also be incorporated into a broader estate plan, covering areas like inheritance, assets, and end-of-life decisions.

The Legal Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement in New Jersey

Opting for a cohabitation agreement can offer several benefits, from legal clarity to asset protection and emotional security. Unlike marriage, cohabitation agreements can be highly customized to fit your specific needs.

Steps to Create a Cohabitation Agreement

1. Initial Discussion: Both partners should have an open conversation about what they hope to include in the agreement, from property to finances.

2. Legal Consultation: Seek the advice of a qualified legal professional, such as Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq., who can guide you through the intricacies of New Jersey’s specific laws and regulations.

3. Drafting the Document: Based on the initial discussion and legal consultation, draft the cohabitation agreement. This will include all the clauses you’ve both agreed upon.

4. Review: Both parties should carefully review the agreement. It might also be beneficial to have separate attorneys review it to ensure both parties’ interests are protected.

5. Sign and Notarize: Once both parties are satisfied, sign the agreement in front of a notary to make it legally binding.

The Role of Legal Consultation

Consulting with a qualified legal professional is crucial in this process. An experienced attorney can guide you through the legal maze, ensuring that the agreement is compliant with New Jersey state laws and that both parties’ interests are equally represented. Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq., offers confidential consultations to help tailor an agreement to your specific circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a cohabitation agreement and a prenuptial agreement?

  • A cohabitation agreement is for couples who live together but are not married. A prenuptial agreement is for couples planning to get married.

Do we need to update our cohabitation agreement?

  • Circumstances change, so it’s advisable to review and potentially update your agreement periodically.

Is a lawyer necessary for creating a cohabitation agreement?

  • While not legally required, consulting a lawyer can ensure the document is legally sound and fair to both parties.

What happens if we decide to marry later on?

  • A cohabitation agreement does not automatically convert into a prenuptial agreement; a separate legal document would need to be drafted.

Next Steps

Taking the significant step to live together warrants careful planning. Safeguard your future by considering a cohabitation agreement. Contact Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq., today for a confidential consultation tailored to your specific circumstances in New Jersey.

Contact Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq. Today For a Confidential Consultation About Your Family Law Needs

In the ever-changing landscape of relationships and legal rights, taking preemptive steps to protect your shared future is invaluable. With years of dedicated experience in family law, Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq., understands the intricate nuances that make each relationship unique. From drafting your cohabitation agreement to offering nuanced counsel on New Jersey’s state-specific regulations, Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq., provides personalized, thoughtful legal advice that aims to secure both your future and peace of mind.

Why leave things to chance? Reach out to us today for a confidential consultation, and take control of your life’s most meaningful partnership.

The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or a substitute for professional counsel. For personalized legal advice, contact our law firm directly.

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    Lois Garber Schwartz

    1040 Kings Highway N., Suite 202

    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


    Phone: 856-375-8989

    Fax: 856-482-0343