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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

Cohabitation Agreements

Some people think cohabitation agreements are anti-relationship. It’s not, it’s a contract, a deal between the two parties, not married and living together, that defines the financial, property arrangements and estate planning between them.

Sharing yourself and your life with your loved one not only involves physical and emotional love, but there’s also a business angle. Look, this is your life, you are building a life together, and it’s important to discuss “ upfront" your situation and what happens if one person decides too leave, becomes ill, or dies, because you are not protected by the benefits of being legally married. Or what if your thinking of buying a house together? Have you prepared for the what ifs? Who gets the home if? Who pays the bills? If things go bad this can be a very expensive learning experience. As with any important decisions in life, the best way to enter into cohabitation is to be prepared.

Too often I see people in my practice who are breaking up and the problem was communication. They were unable to have these frank discussions. By not talking about important life matters, you are embarking on a slippery slope. Talking about it is the first step and by doing so, years from now you won’t have regrets, saying “I thought we agreed” on this or that. Get it out in the open. It’s great practice for a successful, lasting partnership. Yes, it certainly can be an awkward conversation to have with your partner, before you shack up, but from my experience, having these conversations brings people closer.

I suggest couples should strongly consider coming up with a written agreement on everything from paying household expenses to who gets the house if they ultimately part ways. Everything from a living will or advanced health care directive to assets and liabilities to who pays what bills to who gets what.

It’s important to know that cohabitation agreements don’t start with drafting papers in a lawyers office. A cohabitation agreement is a two-sided discussion, one best made when all parties are present and speaking openly about their finances, their needs and their feelings. It starts with a discussion. Who better to facilitate such a discussion than a qualified Mediator? As Mediators we facilitate discussions. Having someone to listen who can also give advice is better than going into battle with high-priced attorneys later on.

Even if you don’t decide to put anything on paper, the discussion is still necessary. And I’m here to help. Visit:

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