Although many couples might decide to get married in Pennsylvania, others may choose to remain unmarried but decide to own property together, open bank accounts together, live together, have children together, and otherwise entangle their personal and financial affairs. When couples choose that path, they may still need to consider how to protect their financial interests in the even of separation or the relationship ending.
Cohabitation agreements allow individuals to protect some of those financial interests and are usually entered before the cohabitation begins. These agreements can offer peace of mind to couples during and after a relationship ends. A family law attorney will be able to guide you as you navigate the options in your relationship.
Gibson Family Law, PLLC, is ready to hear your case and walk you through the steps to obtaining either a domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement in Pennsylvania. Attorney Susan Gibson has spent nearly 15 years practicing family law exclusively. She has helped clients in your situation before.
What are Domestic Partnerships & Cohabitation Agreements?
It's important to understand the differences and limitations of a domestic partnership or a cohabitation agreement. Generally speaking domestic partnerships no longer exist in Pennsylvania but Cohabitation Agreements can provide some protection to unmarried couples who share finances.
Before same-sex marriage was legally recognized, domestic partnerships were common for same-sex couples to receive benefits and recognition in lieu of marriage, but they were also used by other couples to recognize their relationship without getting legally married. Pennsylvania does not currently provide a way for partners to enter into a domestic partnership and Pennsylvania only recognizes the legal status of marriage. However, in Pennsylvania all domestic partnerships, civil unions and other similar relationships entered into in other states will be recognized for purposes of divorce if those parties are living here when they need to pursue a divorce.
Although the Commonwealth may not recognize domestic partnerships, it does recognize cohabitation agreements. Cohabitating partners need only be two people living together in a committed relationship as if they were a married couple.
While this is similar to “common-law marriage”, an arrangement that Pennsylvania abolished in 2005, it does not provide the same financial protections of marriage that a common-law marriage or legal marriage does.
What Does a Cohabitation Agreement Offer?
A cohabitation agreement offers parties the opportunity to agree on how they want to own real estate, bank accounts, or other property while living together in a committed relationship, but it does not bestow all the rights to each other's property that marriage would.
Cohabitation agreements are similiar to prenuptial agreements, cementing how the couple's assets, debts, and benefits might be shared during the relationship, and what happens to everything if the relationship ends.
What if I Want to Enforce My Cohabitation Agreement?
In the unfortunate event that you and your domestic partner or cohabitant decide to go your separate ways, you can enforce your cohabitation agreement as a contract in civil court.
If you or your partner contest the terms of your cohabitation agreement, seek guidance from your Doylestown attorney to help resolve the conflict.
Call a Cohabitation Agreement Lawyer
Relationships are complicated at the best of times. Safeguard your present and your future by consulting Gibson Family Law, PLLC to complete a cohabitation agreement.