4 tips for writing a cohabitation agreement

More couples are living together before marriage. According to recent research, 70 percent of women between ages 30 and 34 cohabit with male partners. If you live and share property with your partner, you may want to legally protect your interests.

The best way to protect your assets if the two of you break up is to draft a cohabitation agreement. This is simply a nonmarital contract that provides similar protections as a prenuptial agreement for married couples. Here are some guidelines you should follow while creating a cohabitation agreement.

1. Come to an understanding

Before you develop an agreement laying out ownership of your assets, you and your significant other should discuss how you will manage your finances. Do not expect to figure everything out in one conversation. Be ready to compromise and accommodate some of the needs of your partner. Take the time to reach a mutual understanding of how money and property will work in your relationship.

2. Focus on the basics

Relationships are complex, and living together makes it even more so. Do not attempt to cover every little detail. Start with covering the essentials of property and money. Ask yourselves the following questions:

“Do we want to keep all property separate?”
“Does what belongs to one of us belong to both of us?”
“Should we share expenses equally?”
How you answer these questions will give you a good starting point.

3. Keep personal issues out of it

The purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to legally protect your property and money. Do not include provisions about nonmonetary issues, such as who is responsible for cleaning the dishes or taking the trash out. And whatever you do, do not mention sex in the agreement. Leave personal and sexual issues out of this legal contract.

4. Get legal advice

Before you sign anything regarding your money or property, you should consult with an attorney. This will ensure your contract is enforceable and protects your interests.