Long Island Cohabitation Agreements Attorney
Seasoned Counsel for Unmarried Couples
Not all couples choose to get married. In New York, those who are unmarried are not afforded the same rights and protections under New York State family law should their relationship dissolve. If you are in a close and loving relationship with no desire to be married, it is advised that you contact an attorney at our firm to help you draft a cohabitation agreement.
How Does a Cohabitation Agreement Work?
Similar to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between two people regarding the responsibilities and obligations toward one another if the relationship ends.
Unlike prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements are not between two people who are married; instead, they are between those who choose to protect their interests while remaining unmarried.
Assets Affected by Cohabitation Agreements
In the state of New York, if an unmarried relationship is terminated, there is no law regarding resolution of interests or claims. When a cohabitation agreement is drafted, you and your partner will determine a fair division of property, debts and other assets that have been acquired throughout the course of the relationship. This agreement is protected under New York Contract Law.
Some situations in which a cohabitation agreement may be considered are situations involving:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Household expenses
- Educational expenses
- Business affairs
Our lawyers can help you legally express terms of support and rights for one another through drafting a cohabitation agreement. Since this is a legal contract, there are rules involved with drafting the agreement, so it is essential that an attorney makes certain the contract is legally enforceable.
Does Common-Law Marriage Exist in New York?
Is common-law marriage valid if we have been cohabitating for several years?
New York does not recognize common-law marriages, as it was abolished in 1933. Even if you have been living together for over 10 years or several decades, you do not have the same rights as a legally married couple. Obtaining a cohabitation agreement acts similarly to a prenuptial agreement, and can afford you some of these rights, however.
Even having children, using identical surnames, and living together will not qualify for a common-law marriage. However, if you were to get a legal common-law marriage from another state, it would hold up as valid in New York. Proving this is rather easy, as minimal contacts from the state recognizing the common-law marriage are needed.
An alternative to a common-law marriage can be a domestic partnership, which New York does recognize as legal. There are a few steps involved when filing for a domestic partnership, such as proving residency and the age of both parties.
Cohabitation Agreement FAQ
I have inherited a significant amount of assets. Can I get a cohabitation agreement?
Yes. Whether you earned your finances through a successful career or received it from your elders through inheritance, you can protect or manage it through a cohabitation agreement.
Can I use a cohabitation agreement if I privately own a business?
One of the main reasons couples in a dedicated, long-term relationship without marriage use a cohabitation agreement is to keep control of their privately-run businesses in the event of a breakup. If there is no cohabitation agreement, your significant other could claim to own a portion of your business by virtue of putting in many hours of labor, or perhaps personal finances, into it.
Will a cohabitation agreement be useful if I have children from a previous relationship?
Many significant others attached to a serious but non-matrimonial relationship can start to feel like parents or guardians to the children of their boyfriends or girlfriends, despite having no blood or legal ties to them. If you are concerned if this could cause trouble if you should decide to split, use a cohabitation agreement to sort matters out sooner than later.
My partner has debts. Could they become my debts?
It all depends on how the debts were formed. Did it have to do with building your life together, such as investing in a shared home? If so, those debts could become yours. A cohabitation agreement can say upfront that you do not share a pool of finances. Or, oppositely, you can volunteer to be responsible for some portion of their debt. If that is not a sign of love and dedication, nothing may be.
Can I establish guardianship of my significant other?
When you want to petition for guardianship of a loved one, they typically need to be a direct member of your family. A cohabitation agreement can specify that you and your partner can file for guardianship over the other in the event of debilitation or incapacitation. If you are not sure about guardianship as a whole, you can put the caveat that this is only permitted in emergency conditions.