Does California Recognize Cohabitation Agreements?

couple reviewing documents

For some, marriage is not in the cards. Whether you’ve already been through a divorce and don’t want to deal with it again or you just never believed in marriage, it is your decision. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. If you choose to intertwine your life with someone else’s but do not get married, you’ll need to consider the legal implications. Luckily, creating cohabitation agreements is an easy way to protect yourself in these circumstances. Keep reading to learn more about this option and discover how a Los Angeles divorce attorney can help you through these matters.

What Are Cohabitation Agreements?

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding document that clarifies the rights and obligations of each party involved in an unmarried relationship. In some states, couples who have been in a relationship for a considerable amount of time may be granted a common-law marriage in the eyes of the state. Essentially, this means they have the legal rights of a married couple without obtaining a marriage license. California does not recognize common-law marriages.

These contracts help set rules and expectations regarding how you will handle your finances during your relationship and what will happen should you break up. These function similarly to prenuptial agreements in that they set established and agreed-upon rules for what will happen to your shared property when your relationship ends.

It’s important to understand that you don’t need this contract for every relationship you enter. As such, you’ll need to determine under what circumstances this agreement is right for your relationship.

What Should I Include in This Document?

If you and your partner have decided that a cohabitation agreement is right for your needs, it’s important to understand what information you must include in the contract. Generally, you’ll begin by determining how you will treat the property you obtain during the relationship. Since you are not married, you will not follow California’s community property laws. As such, you’ll need to clarify if the assets you obtain will be divided between both parties or treated as separate property.

Additionally, you’ll want to include provisions regarding how you will handle expenses. This will include how you pay rent, groceries, child care, and utilities, as well as any other expenses that may arise.

As you can see, there is a considerable amount of thought you must put into these matters. That’s why it’s in your best interest to discuss your circumstances with an attorney as soon as possible. At the Zitser Family Law Group, we understand there are many different types of relationship dynamics. However, we believe every person deserves protection. Reach out today to learn how we can help you navigate these matters.

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