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Cohabitation Agreements Protect Property Rights After Breakups

Posted on in Prenuptial Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements Protect Property Rights After BreakupsRomantic relationships are less bound by the need to marry than they were decades earlier. Adults can live together, share their finances and raise a family without ever marrying each other. However, there are institutional benefits to being married, including the rights and protections that you receive if you divorce. Divorcees in Illinois are entitled to an equitable share of their marital properties and are presumed to both have parental rights. Unmarried couples can protect themselves in the event of a breakup by creating a cohabitation agreement, a document that serves a similar purpose as a prenuptial agreement.

Why You Need a Cohabitation Agreement

Most properties that you acquire during a marriage are classified as marital properties, which you each have a fair claim to. The issue is murkier if you have a property dispute after the breakup of an unmarried relationship. The Illinois Supreme Court has denied equitable property rights to unmarried couples in the past. A written cohabitation agreement is a contract that:

  • Defines which properties you will divide in the event of a breakup
  • Divides the properties in a way that you deem fair
  • Creates an obligation for your relationship partner to follow the principles of fairness following your breakup

Cohabiting partners may have many properties that they paid for together or have both invested in, such as a home, vehicle, household appliances, and luxury items. For instance, your partner may have purchased your home on their own, but you may have a financial interest in the property if you have contributed to paying expenses on the household.

Parenting Issues

Both prenuptial and cohabitation agreements are more limited in the decisions you can make in advance regarding your children. Illinois has a child support formula that you must follow, and the court will approve a parenting agreement only if it is in the best interest of your child. With unmarried parents, it is important that you legally establish that you are both parents to the child. Illinois presumes that any child born during a marriage is the child of both spouses. With unmarried couples, the parent who did not give birth to the child can become a legal parent by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or adopting the child.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Family Law Attorney

No couple wants to anticipate that their relationship will end, but taking precautions such as creating a cohabitation agreement is important for couples who lack the legal rights that come from marriage. A DuPage County family law lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can advise you on the most important things to include in a cohabitation agreement. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.


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