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Is a cohabitation agreement appropriate for you?

What are cohabitation agreements? The short answer is they're contracts -- typically drafted by attorneys and designed to address many of the same family law and divorce-related issues that prenuptial agreements address in Georgia, including property division, child custody and support concerns.

As contracts go, cohabitation agreements have become increasingly common simply because marriage is far less common than it used to be. In fact, just 51 percent (a record low) of Americans are choosing to get legally married today. On the other hand, living together before marriage or with no intent to get married has become the societal norm.

While many people associate cohabitation agreements with same-sex partnerships, the results of a recent survey of divorce attorneys conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers suggest that most cohabitation agreements today are being drafted for heterosexual couples who want to build a life together but don't want to get married. The AAML also reported that nearly half of the 1,600 attorneys polled said they were seeing more and more court battles involving unmarried ex-partners.

In addition to addressing the same issues married couples have to resolve in a divorce, cohabitation agreements can also be used to protect each partner from the possibility of being held liable for the other's student loans or credit card debt should things not work out.

Because litigation of these issues can drag on for years and be prohibitively expensive, unmarried couples in the Atlanta area or the state of Georgia should consider talking to a family law attorney about the benefits of cohabitation agreements and whether one would be appropriate in their case.

Source: CNN, "Prenuptial agreements aren't just for married couples anymore," Jessica Dickler, March 20, 2012

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