Sample Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document. It can help you customize the terms of your relationship and clarify each party's rights and responsibilities. By creating a cohabitation agreement, you can avoid potential disputes and uncertainties.

In today's society, many couples choose to live together before or instead of getting married. Whether you're a married couple or an unmarried couple, it's essential to establish clear guidelines. These can protect your interests in jointly owned property, bank accounts, and other aspects of your shared life.

When a relationship ends, married couples have legal protections for property rights and financial obligations. But, unmarried couples may lack such protections, making it crucial to create a cohabitation agreement.

Cohabitation Agreements Generally

The cohabitation agreement should outline the division of property and financial obligations, establishing the fiduciary duty of each partner. This means that both parties have a legal and ethical obligation to act in each other's best interests on financial matters.

It must address joint accounts, joint debts, joint property, and any financial support if the relationship ends (“palimony"). Like a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement establishes financial expectations and protects individual assets. A cohabitation agreement can also address issues specific to same-sex couples, providing them with equal protection under the law.

One of the most significant benefits of a cohabitation agreement is its versatility. Couples can customize the document according to their specific needs and circumstances. For example, the agreement can address financial arrangements, such as how to share living expenses and how to handle joint debts. The agreement can also address how to treat savings and checking accounts. It can also cover property rights. This can include the division of jointly owned property, real estate, and personal property, in the event of a break-up.

To create a cohabitation agreement, you can start with a cohabitation agreement form or template, like the one below. This form offers a framework to guide you through the process so that you cover important aspects and legal requirements. It's important to include the effective date, which specifies when the agreement goes into effect, and the date of this agreement, which indicates when you signed the document.

The following form is for illustrative purposes only. You and your attorney can use this sample as a guide to draft a cohabitation agreement that protects your interests and complies with the laws where you live.

Sample Cohabitation Agreement

________________________________________, Cohabitant No. 1, and ____________________________________, Cohabitant No. 2, hereinafter jointly referred to as the Cohabitants, who now live /will live together in the future (circle one) at __________________________, in the city of __________________, county of ________________, state of ______________, hereby agree on this _____ day of ______________, in the year ______, as follows:

  1. The Cohabitants wish to establish their respective rights and responsibilities regarding each other's income and property and the income and property that may be acquired, either separately or together, during the period of cohabitation.
  2. The Cohabitants have made a full and complete disclosure to each other of all of their financial assets and liabilities.
  3. Except as otherwise provided below, the Cohabitants waive the following rights:
    1. To share in each other's estates upon their death.
    2. To "palimony" or other forms of support or maintenance, both temporary and permanent.
    3. To share in the increase in value during the period of cohabitation of the separate property of the parties.
    4. To share in the pension, profit sharing, or other retirement accounts of the other.
    5. To the division of the separate property of the parties, whether currently held or hereafter acquired.
    6. To any other claims based on the period of cohabitation of the parties.
    7. To claim the existence of a common-law marriage.
  4. [SET FORTH RELEVANT EXCEPTIONS HERE. For instance, if both cohabitants are contributing to the debt repayment on the home owned by one party, they may agree that any increase in equity during the period of cohabitation will be fairly divided between them.]
  5. The Cohabitants agree to divide the household expenses as follows:
  Monthly Expenses Cohabitant No. 1 Cohabitant No. 2
  Rent or Mortgage $_______________ $_______________
  Telephone $_______________ $_______________
  Gas $_______________ $_______________
  Electricity $_______________ $_______________
  Water & Sewer $_______________ $________________
  Garbage Collection $_______________ $_______________
  Cable Television $_______________ $_______________
  Cellular Phone $_______________ $_______________
  Internet Service $_______________ $_______________
  Property Taxes $_______________ $_______________
  Homeowners/Renters $_______________ $_______________
  Auto(s) $_______________ $_______________
  Recreational Vehicle $_______________ $_______________
  Debt Payments:  
  Vehicle #1 $_______________ $_______________
  Vehicle #2 $_______________ $_______________
  Home Equity Loan $_______________ $_______________
  Other Loans $_______________ $_______________
  Credit Card #1 $_______________ $_______________
  Credit Card #2 $_______________ $_______________
  Credit Card #3 $_______________ $_______________
  Day Care $_______________ $_______________
  Transportation Expenses:  
  Gasoline $_______________ $_______________
  Parking/Commuting $_______________ $_______________
  Vehicle Maintenance $_______________ $_______________
  Licenses $_______________ $_______________
  Groceries $_______________ $_______________
  Take-out Food $_______________ $_______________
  Restaurants $_______________ $_______________
  School Lunches $_______________ $_______________
  Household Expenses:  
  Cleaning Supplies $_______________ $_______________
  Cleaning Service $_______________ $_______________
  Yard Maintenance $_______________ $_______________
  Home Maintenance $_______________ $_______________
  Home Security $_______________ $_______________
  Home Improvements $_______________ $_______________
  Home Furnishings $_______________ $_______________
  Appliances $_______________ $_______________
  Personal Expenses:  
  Entertainment $_______________ $_______________
  Travel $_______________ $_______________
  Gifts $_______________ $_______________
  Hobbies $_______________ $_______________
  Babysitting $_______________ $_______________
  Pet-care Costs $_______________ $_______________
  Donations $_______________ $_______________
  Other Expenses $_______________ $_______________
    $_______________ $_______________
    $_______________ $_______________
    $_______________ $_______________
  TOTAL EXPENSES: $_______________ $_______________
  1. [ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS HERE. These can cover just about any issue, from custody of pets to allocating household chores. The legal obligation to pay child support to any children of the Cohabitants cannot, however, be modified by agreement of the parties.]
  2. Each Cohabitant is represented by separate and independent legal counsel of his or her own choosing.
  3. The Cohabitants have separate incomes and assets to independently provide for their own respective financial needs.
  4. This agreement constitutes the entire agreement of the parties and may be modified only in a writing executed by both Cohabitants.
  5. In the event it is determined that a provision of this agreement is invalid because it is contrary to applicable law, that provision is deemed separable from the rest of the agreement, such that the remainder of the agreement remains valid and enforceable.
  6. This agreement is made in accordance with the laws of the state of _________________, and any dispute regarding its enforcement will be resolved by reference to the laws of that state.
  7. This agreement will become null and void upon the legal marriage of the Cohabitants.


Cohabitant No. 1

Cohabitant No. 2

Witnessed by:

(Witness or counsel signature)

(Witness or counsel signature)


Finalizing a Cohabitation Agreement

You should name the executors, or the people responsible for carrying out the terms of the agreement. Also, it's crucial to state that both parties have disclosed all relevant information honestly and in good faith. Include a severability clause to ensure that if any part of the agreement is unenforceable, the remaining portions will be valid. You and your attorney may want to consider adding such a clause.

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document and you should execute it with the same seriousness as any legal contract. Both partners should carefully review the agreement with the help of legal counsel. Lawyers can tell you about your legal rights and applicable governing law. They can also help cohabiting couples with legal forms and execution of this agreement. Attorneys will provide valuable legal advice to help you finalize your cohabitation agreement.

Get Legal Help Drafting Your Cohabitation Agreement

The above cohabitation agreement template should be a starting point. While a simple cohabitation agreement might be enough to protect your interests, professional help can benefit anyone.

An attorney can help draft an agreement that conforms with local laws and addresses the potential liabilities that arise in cohabitation. Don't rely on a free cohabitation agreement to protect your legal rights and responsibilities. It's always best to get legal advice from a professional.

Contact an experienced family law attorney for some peace of mind before you sign.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • You may want to consider creating powers of attorney or prenup agreements
  • Getting an attorney’s advice is a good idea if there are children or substantial property involved
  • An attorney can help you responsibly enter and exit cohabitation

Get tailored advice about property, finances, and child custody when living together. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

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Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Living with a partner is an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Would you like to add your partner to your will? Also, consider creating a power of attorney so your partner can access your financial accounts and bills. A health care directive is necessary if you want your partner to make your medical decisions if you ever become incapacitated.

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