As Valentine’s Day approaches, those of you in romantic relationships are likely contemplating special gifts that best express your love towards your sweetheart. Candy, flowers, and jewelry are the customary items ordinarily bestowed on this special day of love. BUT, for those of you who are unmarried, yet cohabitating, you should consider a more ‘contemplative’ gift that imparts both clarity and candor to your relationship.
Whether those in love relationships are merely postponing marriage or have no plans to ever marry, executing a cohabitation agreement can be an invaluable, constructive instrument for both parties — a ‘gift’ pledging rights and responsibilities, as well as a ‘symbol’ delivering assurance and transparent allegiance. Contrary to societal perception, entering into such agreements does NOT suggest fear of a relationship’s eventual failure. Rather, it demonstrates the relationship’s vigor as the parties seek to ensure that both are protected. In Texas, these agreements can be employed to:
Clarify Rights and Financial Obligations of the Relationship
An essential component of fashioning a cohabitation agreement is clarifying who will cover what expenses and the duration of such obligations. Crafting procedures regarding finances and responsibilities, cohabitation agreements benefit unmarried couples, especially in instances where one or both parties have substantial assets. Cohabitation agreements safeguard not only individual interests and assets, but also function to protect the duo’s privileges as a couple.
Provide Candor and Peace of Mind
In clarifying the rights and responsibilities of each partner, a cohabitation agreement imparts both candor and equanimity to the relationship. An agreement may establish what money and/or assets a partner will receive in the event of a split, incapacity, or even death. On the other hand, a wealthier party may wish to disavow the relationship as a ‘common law marriage’ to ensure that family members’ assets remain in the family. Ultimately, should a couple eventually break up, a cohabitation agreement provides for a more peaceful and efficient transition, minimizing uncertainty and disorder, as many matters have been decided in advance, allowing both parties to know exactly where they stand.
Disprove Common Law Marriage
In Texas, a community property state, couples who live together encounter the risk that their relationship will constitute a ‘common law marriage.’ In the event a cohabitating couple fails to execute a written mutual agreement specifying they are not married, any property, earnings and debt acquired during the relationship could potentially be subject to division by a Court should it conclude a common law marriage exists.
In summary, cohabitating, unmarried couples should take measures now to provide clarity and candor in regard to their living arrangement. Unlike giving and receiving Valentine's candy, specifying the parameters for inclusion in a cohabitation agreement may not be a particularly enjoyable enterprise. However, REMEMBER you are protecting both yourself and your loved one in case unforeseen circumstances develop. Call the Law Office of Dana L. White as we are happy to assist you and your significant other with “protecting what matters most.”