Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Why Unmarried Couples Should Have Cohabitation Agreements
I was recently thinking about a friend of mine from out of state who went through a pretty miserable breakup. She and her former beau had lived together for several years, and they had a heck of a time determining how to handle to separate their financial lives when they split.
People dealing with the ending of a long term relationship often undergo similar emotional struggles as they would if they were going through a divorce. However, in many ways, an unmarried couple’s “financial” breakup can be even more confusing.
When married couples divorce, there are laws and family law courts to spell out the “rules” of how alimony and spousal support (if any) will work, property will be divided, and debts will be handled. Connecticut is an equitable division state, which means that our courts have broad discretion to divide assets and debts equitably — regardless of whose name they are in.
No such laws exists to help cohabitating partners split. There’s no such thing as common law marriage in Connecticut.
When an unmarried Connecticut couple decides to live together or buy property together, they should enter into a cohabitation agreement and do estate planning in order to protect themselves and memorialize their intent with respect to property and finances. If they do not, they can wind-up without legal remedies or with inadequate legal remedies.
A cohabitation agreement is essentially a contract that says: ‘This is how we plan to share our assets, debts and any property we have now or may accrue.” It is an opportunity for the two of you to decide, in advance, how you want things to work should your relationship end. If you do break-up, the two of you can rely on the document as your guide. If someone violates the contract, because you have taken the formal step of entering into a contract, you may well have recourse in courts.
Freed Marcroft’s family law attorneys know that family law matters aren’t just legal issues — they are emotional processes as well. We guide select clients through the legal aspects of their family law situation while remaining mindful of their overall wellness.