Choosing to move in with your significant other is a big step, even if you’re not married. Problems can pop up, and it’s important to protect yourself against these, even if you don’t think that they will arise. Speaking to a family lawyer or legal advice professional can help you make sure that all your bases are covered, but I’m going to run through one important document in this article – the cohabitation agreement.
What is a cohabitation agreement?
Basically, cohabitation agreements are legal documents which protect both members of a couple from unnecessary legal and financial complications if their relationship breaks down. Without an agreement, a broken de facto relationship can become messy to the point where it’s treated like a divorce in many cases.
Fortunately, cohabitation agreements allow couples to live together in much the same way as married couples without a lot of the complications. They let couples do things like apply for mortgages, get joint bank accounts, and make important life decisions together without too much risk.
In many ways, a cohabitation agreement is like a prenuptial agreement, allowing each member of the couple to protect their assets and their finances.
Why should we get a cohabitation agreement?
A properly written and legally binding cohabitation agreement is a great thing to have as an Australian couple. It reduces the risk of either member of the couple being placed under any significant financial strain if the relationship breaks down, effectively protecting both you and your assets.
Some of the reasons you should make sure that you have a cohabitation agreement include:
It lets you protect your assets – Let’s take the situation where one member of a couple enters a relationship with a lot more assets than the other partner. Signing a cohabitation agreement will prevent property disputes when the relationship breaks down.
It outlines future financial arrangements – Cohabitation agreements can also include sections about child or income support. It’s important to make sure that these are included to reduce the risk of any unexpected costs if your relationship breaks down.
As you can see, cohabitation agreements are very useful legal documents throughout Australia.
How do we get a cohabitation agreement?
Ultimately the best way to put together a cohabitation agreement is with the help of your local family lawyer. Speak with your partner to make sure that it’s something that you’re both comfortable doing, and then speak with your lawyer to figure out what you have to do.
In many cases, lawyers have pre-made cohabitation agreements available that you can simply fill out and sign. However, if your situation is special you might need to have one custom made.
If you’re thinking about moving in with your partner, then you need to think about ways to protect yourself and your finances. Cohabitation agreements are simple, but effective documents that allow couples to outline conditions related to their finances and property before entering a de facto relationship, protecting them if the relationship breaks down.