Unmarried But Living Together? Consider a Cohabitation Agreement

Unmarried But Living Together? Consider a Cohabitation AgreementIn Franklin and other cities across Tennessee, unmarried couples who have spent years living together are not given the same protections as married couples. Therefore, if you and your partner decide to split, the property and assets that you have gained throughout the relationship and while living together will not be divided equitably like they would be if you were a married couple. However, the silver lining in this type of situation is that you have the option of establishing a cohabitation agreement in the event that you do end up breaking up in the future.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract signed by a couple who are not married but are currently living together. Some people refer to this type of agreement as a “living together agreement,” which is exactly what it is. You and your partner develop an agreement that explains what will happen to each item you both own in the event that you end the relationship, move out, or one of you passes away. While it can be challenging to think about any of these scenarios, establishing this type of agreement is essential if you want to ensure that you both have peace of mind regarding what happens to your belongings.

What are the property rights of unmarried couples in Tennessee?

There are absolutely no property rights for unmarried couples in the state of Tennessee. This means that if you choose to separate from your partner, you have no right to their belongings. The only way to secure any rights to certain property is to create a cohabitation agreement with a Franklin family law attorney and ensure that you both sign it. Simply living together gives you no rights and is considered irrelevant and unimportant to the courts.

How binding is a cohabitation agreement?

Your cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract as long as you complete it with the help of an attorney and you both sign it. Once you do this, it becomes enforceable, meaning that both of your wishes must be followed and fulfilled according to the agreement. Some people even take the extra step and have their agreement notarized, which provides an additional layer of security.

Can my cohabitation agreement be verbal or oral?

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your situation, there may be a small possibility that your verbal or oral cohabitation agreement will be upheld. However, it is typically recommended that a cohabitation agreement be written and signed by both parties in the presence of a lawyer or other witnesses. This serves as proof that you both entered into an agreement, understood the details of the agreement, and signed without being threatened or forced.

An oral or verbal cohabitation agreement can be extremely difficult and almost impossible to defend or uphold in court. The reason for this is because there is no tangible proof that you both entered into an agreement, understood what you were agreeing to, and voluntarily signed the agreement.

Are cohabitation agreements a requirement to live together?

The laws in Tennessee do not require couples to complete a cohabitation agreement to live together. However, regardless of whether they are required or not, these legal documents can be very beneficial. Here are some of the benefits of a cohabitation agreement. They can:

  • Clearly explain how property, assets, and belongings will be divided.
  • Establish who will pay for what household expenses (rent, utilities, mortgage).
  • Define who will be the power of attorney, health care proxy, or make important medical decisions in the event of an accident or unexpected illness.
  • Outline who will inherit what if one partner passes away.

It is a common occurrence for one half of the couple to be hesitant that their partner wants a cohabitation agreement. However, drafting a cohabitation agreement doesn’t mean they are planning to separate or break up. Instead, it can be an easy conversation to simply protect you both in case anything unexpected occurs in the future. While it is true that people’s feelings may change over time, it is also important to remember that devastating and tragic events can happen out of the blue, such as one partner becoming severely ill or injured. Therefore, it is essential to be prepared and protected in case this happens.

Are you already living with or thinking about cohabiting with your partner in the near future? If so, the Franklin family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates are here to help you navigate the process of protecting you both. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to cohabitation agreements, and we will never steer you wrong about what to do or even how to approach the topic with your loved one. All you have to do is call our office or submit our contact form to set up your initial appointment at our Brentwood, Franklin, or Columbia office today.