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Wheaton family law attorneysThese days, it is not uncommon for couples to live together without getting married. Depending on the circumstances, they may not be ready for the long-term legal commitment of marriage. Some romantic partners may also want to “test the waters” to see how they get along under the same roof before legalizing their union. However, there are legal steps a couple can take to protect their rights in case they break up. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a contract that can outline how specific issues will be handled similar to when a married couple gets a divorce.   

Who Needs a Cohabitation Agreement? 

“Common law” marriages are not legally recognized in the state of Illinois. This means that an unmarried couple is not entitled to the same rights as their married counterparts. When these couples buy property, vehicles, and furniture together, it can become a complex task to divide these assets in the event of a breakup. 

Although it would be nice, no one knows what the future holds. A couple may live together blissfully for many years, but then find they have grown apart or one act of infidelity causes one partner to leave. Those who might  benefit from drafting a prenuptial agreement as a way of protecting themselves and their interests or investments include but are not limited to:  

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Wheaton family law attorney

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, there has been an increase in unmarried but cohabiting parents over the last two decades. Since 1997, the number of cohabiting parents has risen to 35 percent. The practice of cohabitation prior to, or rather than, marriage has become a practice popular with the millennial generation. The reasons for the rise are primarily economic, plus the desire to avoid the constraints of a legally binding marriage. The practice of cohabitation has some similarity to the old tradition of common law marriage. This was the practice of two individuals cohabiting together and, in some cases, enjoying the rights and benefits of marriage, but without official recognition from the state.

Does a common law marriage, or a cohabiting couple, get the same rights as a legal marriage, and what rights does a cohabiting parent have if a separation occurs?

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