Under the Family Law Act, parties who are not married, but who live together or intend to live together, can enter into agreements that set out each party’s rights and responsibilities flowing from the relationship.
Usually, the main purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to protect each party’s finances in the event of a relationship breakdown including providing for, or limiting, spousal support. The agreement will usually outline who owns certain property and how that property will be dealt with upon marriage breakdown. This is very important because unmarried spouses do not have the same rights and cannot rely on the same laws related to property division as married spouses. A cohabitation agreement can also address estate rights as between unmarried spouses.
Why enter into a cohabitation agreement?
Without a cohabitation agreement, cohabiting spouses may find themselves litigating issues such as spousal support and complex property issues, such as equitable trust remedies.
A cohabitation agreement will help establish clear financial expectations. A cohabitation agreement will allow parties to know from the outset what rights and obligations they have. This will allow you to operate through your relationship with a level of security in the event of a relationship breakdown.
What happens if parties to a cohabitation agreement subsequently get married?
Unless specifically stated otherwise, if parties to a cohabitation agreement get married, the cohabitation agreement becomes a marriage contract and continues to be operational.
When should parties enter into a cohabitation agreement?
Parties can enter into a cohabitation agreement at any time before or during cohabitation. However, we at Frenkel Tobin, Family Law Lawyers, recommend that unmarried spouses sign a cohabitation agreement before they move in together. If you are in a common-law relationship, contact us to learn how we can protect your rights and assets with a cohabitation agreement.