Couples who want to live together and are either ambivalent about or against marriage or who want to experience compatibility issues prior to marriage are well-advised to enter into a cohabitation agreement. Being sued by one’s former best-friend-forever for a piece of property or on an alleged claim of a verbal or an implied-by-conduct promise of support for a year or a lifetime, or for not complying with landlord-tenant law when the relationship sours, is not the best exit strategy.
The purpose of a cohabitation agreement generally is to identify and protect each party’s respective property from future claims by the other and to mutually waive any right to support (aka palimony, a hybrid of the words “pal” and “alimony”) or, conversely, to provide for a quantifiable, ironclad amount of support during and/or after the relationship breaks down. The cohabitation agreement will define the terms of cohabitation from who will pay what percentage of the mortgage or rent, to how future property will be acquired during the relationship and distributed once it ends, any joint monthly expense accounts and how they will be funded and disposed of, to who will relocate and in what time frame should the relationship end, to defining what events will constitute an end to the relationship and termination of the cohabitation agreement.
In short, the cohabitation agreement is a realistic approach for savvy couples who want to avoid having their relationship perpetually bogged down by worries every nonmarital relationship seems to suffer by remedying many of those concerns from the outset.