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Do You Need a Cohabitation Agreement?

Posted on in Divorce

Will County divorce attorney, cohabitation agreementFor generations, the majority of both young men and women had the goal of meeting someone, getting married, and raising a family. However, statistics reveal that for many, that goal has changed a bit. Today, couples are choosing not to marry.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that approximately 20 percent of adults age 25 years or older have never been married. In 1960, it was only 10 percent.

There are several common reasons cited as to why people choose not to get married, with one of the major ones being financial—people want to be financially stable before walking down the aisle.

This delay in marriage has led to a huge increase in the number of couples who choose to live together, also referred to as cohabitating. In the past 50 years, the number of couples who choose to share a home, either before or instead of marriage, has grown by 900 percent. According to U.S. Census Bureau, almost 8 million couples cohabitate. Twenty years ago, that number was just under 3 million.

Cohabitating couples often meld their financial lives together, just as married couples do. Shared bank accounts, homes, property, and other assets are common, as is shared debts, such as joint credit card and utility bills.

However, unlike marriage, which offers couples legal protection under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are no laws in the state that govern cohabitation. Illinois does not recognize common law marriages, nor are there legal rights afforded to couples who choose to live together.

A cohabitation agreement can provide the protection both parties need in the event of a breakup. A solid cohabitation agreement should address the following topics:

  • Assets which were owned separately before the couple began living together;
  • A list of any property inherited or gifted to either party;
  • A list of all property purchased jointly;
  • How joint assets will be divided in the event the couple should break up;
  • A list of all expenses the couple share;
  • How joint debt will be divided in the event the couple should break up; and
  • A decision on what method the couple will use (i.e. mediation) should a disagreement over the cohabitation agreement arise.

When drawing up a cohabitation agreement, couples should each have their own attorney in order to ensure both party’s legal rights will be protected. If you are considering an agreement, contact an experienced Will County divorce attorney. Call Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 815-726-9200 today to set up your free initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-science-of-cohabitation-a-step-toward-marriage-not-a-rebellion/284512/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ILCS/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

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