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What Are the Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement in Illinois?

Posted on in Family Law

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:  

  • Individuals with substantial wealth or high assets: Some people may come into a relationship with significant property holdings or funds that they made prior to cohabitating, which they do not want to lose if they split up. 
  • People who make large purchases while cohabitating: A couple may buy a house or condo together, along with items to furnish it, such as appliances, computers, TVs. They may also purchase or lease a vehicle.  
  • Individuals who support their partner financially: One person may pay for tuition and household expenses while the other partner attends graduate or medical school during the relationship.   
  • Partners who raise children or maintain a home: A partner might choose to be a stay-at-home parent and therefore does not have his or her own income. 
  • Couples with large income disparities: In some cases, one partner may make significantly more than the other depending on their educational backgrounds and occupations.   

Issues to Address in a Cohabitation Agreement

In the case of a nasty breakup, a cohabitation agreement can prevent costly disputes if prepared with the help of an experienced family law attorney. This mutual contract can be made before or after a couple chooses to live together, and they can include the following issues:

  • Each partner’s share of any household expenses
  • Property division in the event of a breakup
  • Payment of mutual debts
  • Health insurance coverage

There are additional issues that a cohabiting couple may want to address, such as estate planning and medical care. Typically, a person who lives with another individual is not considered his or her heir or next of kin by law and he or she does not have the same rights to make medical care decisions as a spouse would. That is why it is important for unmarried couples who live together to consider estate planning and power of attorneys in addition to having a non-marital agreement.

Contact an Oak Brook Family Law Attorney

Some couples choose not to get married for various reasons. In the event you and your partner break up, you might think it will be easier to part ways without having to go through divorce proceedings. However, even if you and your partner are not married, it is important to note that you may still be entitled to property and other assets. That is why it is helpful to speak to a seasoned Naperville cohabitation agreement lawyer so your rights are protected. The team at Anderson and Associates, P.C. has vast knowledge of how Illinois laws affect issues for both married and unmarried couples. To schedule an initial consultation, call our office today at 630-653-9400.




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