Understanding Oral Cohabitation Agreements

What role do verbal agreements play in cases where couples live together and commingle assets, but do not get married? In other words, when an oral cohabitation agreement is made early on in a relationship that lasts for a significant time, does each partner deserve an equitable share of the commingled assets (much like in divorce)?

In the past, most courts would say "no." To enjoy these property division protections, couples needed to be married or to at least have an agreement in writing. But in recent years, courts in Florida have issued landmark rulings on the enforceability of oral cohabitation agreements. And these rulings have had a profound impact on the LGBTQ community — which relied heavily on such agreements before same-sex marriage was legal.

Kenneth E. Keechl, PA, is a statewide leader in oral cohabitation agreements. In fact, our firm has been involved in some of these landmark cases. We now represent clients across the state who are seeking to either enforce an oral cohabitation agreement or to demonstrate that one is invalid. Our firm is uniquely equipped to answer your questions.

What Is Covered In A Legal Case Like This?

Many of these cases come down to ownership of real estate and other valuable assets that were either listed as jointly owned or in one partner's name only. Other valuable assets could include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks
  • Jewelry
  • Businesses
  • Mortgages
  • Money loans to others
  • Jointly owned vehicles
  • Family pets

If an asset or piece of property is listed on paper as belonging to only one partner, it would seem as though ownership could not be disputed. But were promises made to the contrary? Were both partners making payments on a given piece of property? Was it understood at the time that the property or asset would be jointly owned? These are the types of questions that our lawyer will ask as we prepare your case.

Providing Evidence Of A Relationship

We will also work to establish evidence of a long-term, committed relationship. This is to demonstrate that both partners were invested in the relationship — emotionally and materially — in ways that most married couples would be. Such evidence could include:

  • Certificates and paperwork related to blessing ceremonies or civil unions
  • Photo albums showing a lengthy, strong relationship
  • Partners naming each other in their respective wills and estate planning documents
  • Partners commingling assets in joint bank accounts
  • Partners sharing family inheritances with each other

In most cases, the legal mechanism for settling these disputes is called a partition action. When parties jointly own real estate or other property and cannot agree on what should be done with it, they may file a partition action to have a court make that determination.

Contact Our Firm To Discuss Your Case

Kenneth E. Keechl, PA, is based in Wilton Manors and serves clients across Florida. To learn more about oral cohabitation agreements from a highly experienced attorney, call us at 954-271-0667, or send us an email.