You would certainly expect to sign a contract when you purchase a car, but it might seem silly if a friend asks you to draft an agreement before having coffee together. Similarly, the contractor who builds an addition onto your house will likely present you with a contract, but the neighbor's kid who mows your lawn may not.
Contracts protect you when there is a lot at stake, and while such a document may seem appropriate for a couple getting married, do you really need one if you and your partner are living together? Many couples getting married have found that entering into a prenuptial agreement serves many purposes, but can you have those same advantages if you are not exchanging vows?
The advantages of a co-habitation contract
Without the legal benefits that marriage brings, you may find that you want to offer some protection to your partner, define your relationship and create the opportunity for a frank discussion about the future. Like many, you may find that your conversations about these topics open a new dimension to your relationship. Some of the things you can include in a co-habitation contract may include:
- The ownership of property, both the items you purchase together and those you obtain separately before and during the relationship
- The division of expenses
- The distribution of your assets if one of you dies or decides to end the relationship
- The process you will use to resolve any serious disagreements between you
There are many reasons why some partners choose to live together without getting married. You may be committed to your partner, but neither of you believes marriage is necessary for your union to be valid. Perhaps you have personal obligations that prevent you from getting married. Of course, maybe you and your partner are among the many for whom society has denied the privilege of marriage for so long that you aren't willing to change your situation just because it is now legal for you to marry.
Verbal agreements may be valid
It may be true that, if you are not interested in entering into a marriage contract, you likely have equal disdain for a living-together contract, at least a written one. However, you and your partner may have sincere and open discussions about these serious matters, and perhaps you have reached a verbal agreement.
Additionally, although there is no certificate with your signatures, you have probably committed to caring for one another into old age. Although you may have no legal contract verifying such an agreement, the evidence of your life together may be enough to make a valid argument in court for your commitment to one another.