Consumer News

‘Cohabitation Agreement’ – The Prenup For Unmarried Couples

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Hear ‘Prenup’ and a wealthy couple on a second marriage might come to mind.

Now more unmarried couples are drawing up similar agreements to protect themselves if their relationship comes to an end.

Jewel Landers has been living with her boyfriend for 23 years.

Although they are still going strong, she has thought about what would happen if they ever split up.

“I would hope that if something were to happen to us that I would get something out of it without having to take him to court,” she said.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

A poll of divorce attorneys revealed an increasing number of unmarried are ending up in court when their relationships come to an end.

To prevent problems, many are signing what’s called a “Cohabitation Agreement.”

This is a legally binding document for couples who share a home, but not a name.

A cohabitation agreement outlines expectations no matter how a relationship ends.

It can cover issues like health insurance, repayments of debt, and what to do with all kinds of property.

Attorney Linda Lea Viken added, “What happens if you buy a house together? Who gets the house if it is not in both names? Also, furniture or other things that are not titled and not in anyone’s particular name.”

Relationship coach Dr. Anne Renee Testa views these agreements as a sign of the times.

Over the past two decades, the number of unmarried couples living under the same roof has almost doubled.

“A couple that is interested in being intelligent about their relationship should do something like this because it absolutely clears the air,” said Dr. Testa.

Dr. Testa believes a cohabitation agreement should not be viewed as negative for a relationship.

“It’s not about one person controlling the other. It’s not about feeling as though the romance is taken out of it. If anything, they should go out there and have a glass of champagne afterwards and celebrate.”

These documents can range in their level of complexity. Some couples even outline what should happen to pets if their relationship breaks up.

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