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What Are Cohabitation Agreements And Are They Useful?

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 them, even if you don’t think they will arise. Speaking to lawyers can help you ensure that all your bases are covered, but I will run through one important document in this article – the cohabitation agreement.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are legal documents that protect both couple members 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 often treated like a divorce.

Fortunately, cohabitation agreements allow couples to live together in much the same way as married couples without many complications. They let couples 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 child or income support sections. It’s important to ensure that these are included to reduce the risk of unexpected costs if your relationship breaks down.

As you can see, cohabitation agreements are handy 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 that you can simply fill out and sign. However, if your situation is special, you might need to have one custom-made.

Final word:

If you’re considering moving in with your partner, 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.  

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