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What is a cohabitation agreement?

Marriage offers a couple a lot of advantages, but it also involves a big commitment and a lot of legal and social implications. Some couples in Michigan do not wish to enter into marriage, perhaps because of personal beliefs or because doing so would be economically disadvantageous. If you and your partner fall into this category but would still like to delineate rights, responsibilities and financial obligations to one another through legal means, you have the option of entering into a cohabitation agreement.

According to FindLaw, a cohabitation agreement may be either express or implied, oral or written, but it is easier for the court to make decisions about a written agreement if need be. Essentially, a cohabitation agreement is a contract between two people who wish to live together that defines the obligations and rights that each partner owes to the other. 

Your cohabitation agreement can include as much or as little detail as you and your partner deem necessary. It is preferable to write it out in plain language rather than trying to adopt legal jargon. 

Many of the provisions you and your partner may choose to include in your agreement pertain to ownership of property. Marriage presupposes that spouses share all property equally, including property obtained before the relationship and property accumulated during the relationship. By contrast, your cohabitation agreement may stipulate that you and your partner retain sole ownership of any property that was in your possession prior to the beginning of the relationship. 

A cohabitation agreement is one way of determining who owns what property in the event that the couple splits up or one partner dies. For this reason, elderly couples often favor cohabitation agreements over marriage to ensure that their property goes exactly where they want it to go upon death. However, cohabitation agreements are not limited to the elderly, and younger couples may enter into them as well. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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