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Creating A Marital Or Cohabitation Agreement

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Whether you are living with someone you trust or are married to the love of your life, relationships of all kinds can encounter obstacles. Every couple faces challenges together.

When sharing a household in a marriage or while living together, the stakes may be high. You and your spouse might not have the level of security that you need if something were to happen to the other person. Furthermore, if the relationship ends, the other spouse could still have access to your finances, belongings, children and personal data.

A valid legal agreement can provide the extra protection you need in these potential circumstances. Learn about facilitating your relationship with a marital or cohabitation agreement with Feinberg & Waller, APC. We are experienced in a wide range of family legal situations, and we know how to position you and your partner for a positive experience together. Let us help you fully customize your agreement.

What Are Marital Agreements And Cohabitation Agreements?

When couples decide to get married, they may choose to create a prenuptial agreement, which has become a popular option for engaged couples across California. However, unmarried couples who are moving in together and couples who have been married for a few years already may also need certain legal protection.

Depending on your needs, a marital or cohabitation agreement can separate property and clarify each party’s role in the marriage or home. In case of divorce, separation, moving out or a dispute, an agreement lays out the expectations of both parties.

Once you create a marital or cohabitation agreement verbally or formally, you are legally obligated to abide by it. Therefore, it is critical to review the contract with an experienced family law attorney. At Feinberg & Waller, APC we will make sure the agreement is fair and fully protects you.

What To Include In A Cohabitation Agreement

Unmarried couples, family members, long-term roommates and other cohabitating parties may choose to form a cohabitation agreement. This contract allows them to formally establish their expectations and responsibilities while living together.

A cohabitation agreement can define several aspects of your living arrangement, including:

  • Each party’s household duties and responsibilities
  • Each party’s financial contributions and obligations, such as rent and repair costs
  • Ownership and separation of assets, property, gifts and inheritance obtained before and during cohabitation
  • A method for resolving a dispute or terminating the relationship

Cohabitation agreements are not the same as landlord-tenant agreements, nor does a cohabitation agreement provide equal rights to a tenant and a landlord. Instead, cohabitation agreements are a solution for people who are collaboratively sharing the same residential space together. Speak with our lawyers at a consultation to learn more about your rights under a cohabitation agreement.

What To Include In A Marital Agreement

In many ways, a marital agreement is often similar to a cohabitation agreement with a few marriage-specific alterations. There are two types of marital agreements: prenuptial agreements, which you can form before the marriage, and postnuptial agreements, which you can form at any point in the marriage.

In your marital agreement, you may choose to include:

  • Which assets and debts belong to each spouse separately
  • Whether you and your spouse will file taxes jointly or individually
  • Whether your spouse would be the beneficiary of your retirement plan if the plan does not automatically benefit the spouse already
  • The financial and household obligations for which each spouse is responsible

You cannot determine post-marital child custody or child support matters in your marital agreement, but you can determine other aspects involving children. During the marriage, your agreement can determine which source of income will cover child-related costs. You can also agree on important decisions for the child’s upbringing, such as what type of school they will attend.

If you and your spouse decide to keep certain assets separately owned through your agreement, these assets will not need to go through the asset division process in divorce. Many couples take comfort in the guarantee that they will not risk losing their separate property — no matter what happens in the marriage. However, you will have to ensure that you do not commingle separate and marital property over the years.

As the circumstances in your marriage, family and finances change, you may need to modify your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. We can work with you to draft, review and alter your marital agreement as necessary.

When To Create A Cohabitation Or Marital Agreement

At Feinberg & Waller, APC we focus on providing practical solutions according to each client’s unique circumstances. We can review your situation and help you decide whether an agreement would be beneficial.

Typically, not every relationship will require legal protection with a formal agreement. However, there are many reasons why an agreement may be right for you.

You and the other party may be more likely to benefit from an agreement if:

  1. One or more parties own or expect to own assets of a significant value
  2. One or more parties own unusual assets, such as a business
  3. You share a child with the other party
  4. You may one day consider a temporary separation or divorce from your spouse

Marital agreements and cohabitation agreements are personalized solutions. Creating one does not have to mean that you don’t trust the other party. Rather, these agreements exist to keep the relationship running smoothly over time. If the relationship happens to come to an end, the agreement allows both people to fall back on a pre-established plan.

Consult With Our Skilled Family Law Attorneys

Get clear information and professional advice before entering into an agreement. Based in Beverly Hills and Calabasas, our firm will give you personal attention as you make significant decisions about your finances, your relationship and your living arrangement. Call 818-224-7900 or send us an email to schedule a consultation with our committed lawyers.