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The Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement in Illinois

Wheaton cohabitation agreement attorneysMany people might be apprehensive about getting married if their parents were divorced while others simply might not care about signing a marriage license. Therefore, many of today’s couples choose to live together or “cohabitate” without entering into a legal union. In 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that unmarried couples do not have any legal rights to each other’s property if they separate. The end of a long-term relationship can be contentious, regardless if the couple had children together or not. Deciding who gets what when they split can be complicated, especially if the couple acquired a significant amount of property or assets during the relationship. This is why some couples consider drafting a cohabitation agreement.

What Does the Agreement Protect?

A cohabitation agreement can be drafted before or after two people decide to live together. This type of document typically addresses such issues as:

  • Each party’s contribution to household expenses;
  • Division of property in the case of a breakup;
  • Payment of mutual debts;
  • Health insurance coverage; and
  • Parental responsibilities if children are involved.

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement in some ways. It is basically a contract between two consenting adults that addresses how to commingle their finances and distribute their assets if the relationship ends. This can prevent conflict in the future, especially if they cannot agree on how to divide the property or debt fairly. Property can include a house, furniture, artwork, vehicles, and more. It is important to know that a cohabitation agreement cannot order child support or parenting time. Those issues must be determined by a court.

Common Law Marriage

Some states recognize “common law marriage,” which refers to when a couple has lived together for an extended period of time but never married. They often consider themselves “married” by all intents and purposes. Illinois does not recognize its citizens as being married by common law. However, Illinois does recognize common law marriages as valid for couples who move to the state and whose previous residence considered their common law marriage to legally binding.

When a couple who was common-law married in another state moves to Illinois, they are entitled to the same rights and protections as those couples who legally married in the state. This means they can get divorced in Illinois and a court can divide their marital assets. However, the couple must prove all of the following:

  • Common law marriage was recognized in the state in which they “got married;”
  • They met the common law marriage requirements of that state; and
  • They were not previously divorced in another state.

Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney

These days, it is not uncommon for couples to live together without getting married. Whether the relationship lasts for months or years, having a plan for how to divide any assets in the event of a breakup can protect your future. The law firm of Anderson and Associates, P.C. has years of experience helping couples determine the most appropriate type of arrangement. One of our knowledgeable DuPage County cohabitation agreement lawyers will help you create an agreement that is suitable for your situation. Call our office today at 630-653-9400 to schedule a free consultation. 

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050k510.htm

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-illinois-supreme-court-domestic-partners-property-ruling-met-20160819-story.html

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