Couples in Florida who don’t plan to marry often opt for a cohabitation agreement when they want the same benefits as married couples without going through the strenuous process of getting married.
A cohabitation agreement, also known as a “domestic partnership agreement”, is a legally binding contract recognized by Florida courts. Similar to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, a cohabitation agreement establishes financial stability and the division of assets in case the couple decides to separate. Cohabitation agreements apply to unmarried couples who live together and desire to have similar benefits to married couples. These agreements are founded on contract law rather than the principles of family law.
Florida doesn’t recognize common law marriage, which stipulates that a state would consider a couple legally “married” if they live together for a certain amount of time. Being legally married gives the couple the right to enter prenuptial and postnuptial agreements which allows the couple to divide assets and make plans for their future financially under a legal document.
In Florida, this doesn’t apply. Couples living together who don’t wish to get married can enter a cohabitation agreement, which gives them the same opportunities as married couples in this regard. A cohabitation agreement is designed to protect both parties if they split up down the line.
Cohabitation agreements offer more than asset protection. They can assign duties and rights to each party, but it varies case to case. Cohabitation agreements can address the following:
Property and real estate: The couple can decide how to divide any real estate or property that they own together. Rather than splitting everything 50/50, they can determine how things will be divided between them.
Child support: Similar to married couples with children, unmarried couples determine who is to pay child support along with the amount and frequency.
Labor law issues: If one partner works for the other, it can be predetermined what will happen in the event that they split up.
Landlord/tenant laws: This will cover what will happen with the property that the couple lives in at the time if the couple spits up. If one partner happens to be the landlord, the agreement will also cover what to do in that situation.
Alimony: Just like married couples, alimony payments may be made when an unmarried couple under a cohabitation agreement separates. These payments will be laid out in the agreement.
Just like any legal contract, there are limitations to a cohabitation agreement. Cohabitation agreements cannot contain anything that goes against public interest or could be considered unconscionable. The agreement also does not address child custody.
When assessing ‘Is a cohabitation agreement right for me?,” consider this: if you and your partner are living together and are firm on your decision not to get married, a cohabitation agreement may be right for you. It provides unmarried couples with the same opportunity to protect their future as married couples.
A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract. In order for a contract to be enforceable in the state of Florida, the following conditions must be met at the time of signing: a notary must be present, there must be two witnesses not related to either party present, the agreement must be in writing, and the agreement must benefit both parties.
Yaffa Family Law offers Florida cohabitation services with highly experienced lawyers. Located in the Boca Raton area, we provide Floridians with dedicated and efficient legal care. To book a complimentary consultation, call (561)276-3880.