FAQs About Oral Cohabitation Agreements

This area of law is, admittedly, new and unfamiliar to many people — even many attorneys. Therefore, we're dedicating this page to answering some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about oral cohabitation agreements in Florida.

Q: What is an oral cohabitation agreement?
A: It is nothing more than a verbal agreement between partners to take care of each other. They are sometimes called verbal relationship agreements or verbal support agreements.

Q: Does an agreement have to be in writing to be enforceable?
A: Not necessarily. Many or even most couples who move in together and commingle assets do so without a formal, documented agreement. But these actions demonstrate a commitment to the other person's personal and financial well-being.

Q: Do oral cohabitation agreements have the same legal weight for heterosexual couples as they do for gay couples?
A: In some ways, the answer is yes. A promise made and committed to should be kept, especially when it significantly affects the lives and finances of both partners.

That being said, there is an important difference that needs to be noted. For a long time, gay couples did not have the option to get married. Therefore, verbal agreements were one of the only tools available when committing to each other.

Q: Do the assets have to be in both of our names to be considered joint property?
A: Such evidence might be helpful, but not vital. See below for more information.

Q: Do we have to have a joint checking account to prove that assets were commingled?
A: Such evidence might be helpful, but not vital. See below for more information.

Q: What factors does a court look at to determine whether there was an oral cohabitation agreement in place?
A: There may not be any "must-have" evidence. Instead, we only need to demonstrate that a commitment was made and that you and your ex were building a life together. Evidence could include:

  • Assets purchased together
  • Having signing authority on each other's important accounts and documents
  • Having joint checking accounts and credit accounts
  • Being named in each other's wills or as beneficiaries on life insurance policies
  • Documents or pictures of blessing ceremonies, civil unions or other formal events ceremonially tying you together as a couple

Q: I own property with my partner and we are both on the title. He made most payments. Does he get most proceeds when it sells?
A: Not necessarily. Many factors must be considered, so more case-specific questions like this should be addressed to a lawyer like Kenneth Keechl, who has a wide range of knowledge in this area of law.

Have More Questions? Contact Us Today.

With an office in Wilton Manors, Kenneth E. Keechl, PA, serves clients throughout Florida. To schedule a consultation, call us at 954-271-0667. You can also reach us via email.