Creating a California Cohabitation Agreement

Sat 23rd October, 2021 Family Law

Married couples in California are provided significant protections before, during, and after a marriage with prenuptial, postnuptial, and divorce agreements. The situation is substantially different from unmarried couples, who receive no such protections under state law. However, cohabitating couples can create a cohabitation agreement with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can provide many benefits and protections for everyone in the relationship. To learn more about cohabitation agreements, call or contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Los Angeles today.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, except that it is meant for cohabitating couples that are not legally married. Unlike agreements for married couples that are based in California family law, a cohabitation agreement is based in contract law. A cohabitation agreement can establish and protect certain rights for each person in the relationship, particularly if a relationship ends.

Creating Property and Financial Interests

One of the most important aspects of a California cohabitation agreement is that it establishes property interests for each person in the relationship. Cohabitating couples do not receive the benefit of community property rules like married couples when they divorce, but a cohabitation agreement can dictate who receives what property when the relationship ends. This can include both real estate as well as personal property that is acquired during the course of the cohabitation. This type of document can also reinforce an estate plan if the couple wishes to leave specific property to each other when they die.

Another benefit of cohabitation agreements is the establishment of financial interests. If one person in the relationship has a higher income than the other, financial interests can be arranged in a cohabitation agreement to provide for the person who is not as well off if the relationship ends. This prevents one person from being left with nothing and helps maintain their standard of living even if the couple is no longer cohabitating together.

Limits on Cohabitation Agreements

However, it is important to note that there are limitations on cohabitation agreements in California. First, a cohabitation agreement cannot contain provisions that are considered unconscionable or go against public interest. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, this document cannot leave one person in the relationship with nothing after the cohabitation ends or make unreasonable demands in exchange for property and financial interests, such as engaging in intimate acts.

Another limitation to cohabitation agreements is the agreement to child custody or child support terms. A judge must approve child custody and support even when a couple is not legally married and does so by determining what would be in the best interests of the child. A couple cannot agree to these terms outside of court in a cohabitation agreement because it is seen as doing so in their own best interests and not the child’s. To learn more about the limitations of cohabitation agreements in the Los Angeles area, talk to our office today.

Call or Contact Our Office Now

Are you interested in creating a cohabitation agreement for your relationship or have more questions to determine if this type of agreement is best for you? If so, call the office or contact us today at the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler to schedule a consultation of your legal needs.