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Couple on the couch on devices cohabitation vs. marriage

Cohabitation is a common practice that couples use before formalizing their relationship with marriage or as a substitute for marriage. Couples who choose cohabitation do so to avoid the cost of a wedding or divorce when they break up, to know each other better in a shared space, or fail to see the point in formalizing their union as a couple. Cohabitation is where an unmarried couple lives together. Both married couples and cohabiting couples have rights, but there are some aspects where they differ.

What Is A Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a civil agreement between partners living together in a marriage setting. It is made either before cohabitating or during the cohabitation period. This agreement contains promises made by both partners to each other and outlines who owns what and in what portion. This makes it easier to handle a breakup since the agreement shows how you will split the assets that you share joint title to. It may also create an opportunity for a partner to acquire equity in assets that he or she does not have title to such as a house. Without this agreement, cohabiting couples have no legal right when they separate since a cohabitation agreement protects your rights and properties, and obligations.

A cohabitation agreement sets out living arrangements upon the end of the relationship and outlines how you will deal with bank accounts, debt, mortgage, and shared purchases like a house or a car. A cohabitation agreement is also helpful during your stay together, not just when breaking up. You can use the agreement to set your day-to-day finances. It can outline how each partner will contribute to the mortgage, rent, and bills. However, a cohabitation agreement may not be enforced by either partner until the relationship has ended.


You get to decide matters like finances, property ownership, and other obligations early in the relationship. This understanding reduces the burden of legal costs and stress by reducing the need to take legal action in the future. It also outlines how to deal with household expenses, pension, debt, and more. It is good to keep updating your agreement since situations change, you can have kids after signing the agreement, and you need to include them to ensure you safeguard their interests. Financial interests change as well as circumstances.

It gives you a legal right in case you separate, something couples without the agreement can lack. You are entitled to a share of your properties. Breakdowns are easier to deal with when there is an outline of each party’s share of assets. You cannot share properties owned before the agreement, but for any property bought together, you decide how to allocate it.

A cohabiting agreement also protects you if you have to change your life. Leaving your job, relocating, or having kids can change a person’s financial situation. If you had to leave your job to take care of your kids, the cohabitation agreement offers protection after a breakdown in terms of alimony and compensation if it is included.

It reduces the risk of arguments and splitting up due to financial reasons. And since it doesn’t require legal action to resolve disputes, it is cheaper than a divorce. The agreement reduces the chances of needing legal action and saves you money.

Cohabitation Agreement Vs Marriage Agreement

  • A marriage takes place with a formal ceremony and the signing of a marriage certificate, while cohabitation can begin without any formalities.
  • For a marriage to end, it has to be by a legal divorce or annulment process, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Cohabitation does not need a formal ending.
  • When separating, married couples can claim their partner’s assets, but cohabiting couples can only claim their own assets or their interest in joint accounts that were obtained after moving in together.

If you are planning to move in with your partner, you need to be open to the possibility you might break up. That is why you need to have a cohabitation agreement to protect yourself. The agreement makes living together easy since each party knows their responsibilities, and financial fights, which cause a lot of breakups, can be avoided. And if you break up, you can make the process easy and save money since the agreement outlines how you will share the assets there is no need for legal action. 

Contact a Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin Cohabitation Agreement Lawyer to protect your interest in your relationship. Contact the Benjamin Kaasa Law office to arrange a consultation.

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