As more and more unmarried couples are living together, there has been a rise in the number of such couples seeking legal protections. Just as couples planning to wed may execute prenuptial agreements, unmarried couples may arrange for similar protections with cohabitation agreements.
Nationwide, almost 40 percent of divorce attorneys surveyed reported an increase in cohabitation agreements over the past five years between couples who live together, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Additionally, nearly half the attorneys polled also said they saw a rise in court cases between couples who lived together but remained unmarried.
"A lot more people are delaying or forgoing marriage and people are realizing as you get older, you have more things to protect," explained the president of the AAML.
Only 51 percent of American adults are now choosing to marry, which the Pew Research Center reports is a record low. Since many couples still elect to live together, a cohabitation agreement is a good way to protect each party's assets. In particular, these agreements may be useful if an unmarried couple plans to buy a home together. Besides protecting assets, such agreements can be used to safeguard against being responsible for an ex's debts.
Even if unmarried couples don't foresee relationship troubles down the road, they should still consider protecting themselves with a cohabitation agreement. Couples with strong relationships are in the best position to plan for the future and make the necessary legal arrangements.
Source: CNN Money, "Prenups aren't just for married couples anymore," Jessica Dickler, Mar. 20, 2012