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Cohabitation Attorney in Lake County & Cook County, Illinois

In recent years, the number of couples who choose cohabitation over marriage has increased exponentially. Basically, cohabitation means living together, having a romantic relationship, and sharing property without being married. For many couples, moving in together is the first step before getting married. However, an increasing number of couples who do want to make a formal commitment choose cohabitation as an alternative to marriage.

If you are already living together with your partner or are considering moving in together in the foreseeable future, you may want a cohabitation agreement that would protect your rights in the event of separation.

As a cohabitation attorney at Goldstein Law Office, I am committed to helping my clients find peace of mind knowing that their rights and financial interests are protected even though they are not formally married to their partner. I help clients resolve their family law matters in Lake County and Cook County, as well as throughout the state of Illinois, including Deerfield, North Chicago, Waukegan, Antioch, Highland Park, and Lake Forest.

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What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number of new marriages in Illinois declined from nearly 85,800 in 2000 to over 76,600 in 2017. If you and your partner choose cohabitation over marriage, you need to understand that you may not have the same rights and protections that married couples have.

For this reason, you may need to consider creating what is called a “cohabitation agreement.” A cohabitation agreement is a legally-binding contract between two people living together without being married. A cohabitation agreement can provide protections similar to a prenuptial agreement without having to get married.

A well-drafted cohabitation agreement can specify how the partners will split or handle the accumulated money, shared property, or debt in the event of separation. The agreement can specify who gets what if the relationship comes to an end.

If partners decide to get married later on, they can use their cohabitation agreement when creating a prenuptial agreement. Seeking legal counsel from a knowledgeable cohabitation attorney could help you ensure that the agreement addresses all the unique issues of your case.

Elements of a Cohabitation Agreement

A well-drafted cohabitation agreement should be tailored to you and your partner. Depending on your specific situation, some of the elements that may be included in your cohabitation agreement include:

  • Who should be responsible for paying the rent or making mortgage payments

  • What happens to the rental or mortgaged property in the event of a breakup

  • How much time a partner has to move out in the event of separation

  • Who is responsible for paying for utilities, insurance, and other expenses

  • Who would have child custody and visitation rights (if partners share children together)

  • Whether one partner would be required to pay child support, if appropriate

  • Whether the personal property owned by parties before cohabitation would remain their separate property

  • Who would be responsible for debts incurred by the partners before cohabitation and while living together

  • Whether the higher-earning partner would be responsible for providing financial support to the other partner in the event of separation

When drafting the agreement, it is vital to consider the couple’s unique circumstances, their property, finances, and other factors to ensure that the agreement provides the desired protection. That is why you may need to speak with an experienced attorney to review your particular situation and help you understand what type of a cohabitation agreement you need in your specific case.

Consequences of Not Having
a Cohabitation Agreement

When you do not have a legally-binding cohabitation agreement in place, you could end up not having the necessary protections in the event of a breakup. Without a cohabitation agreement, you could be held responsible for the debts incurred by your partner while living together.

In addition, if you purchase property together or get a mortgage while cohabitating, you may not have any property rights, especially if the property is not registered in joint names. Another common reason partners draft a cohabitation agreement is to ensure that they will be entitled to financial support even if their relationship ends. For example, if one partner had to give up their career to raise the kids, a cohabitation agreement might require the other partner to provide financial support to that partner in the event of separation.

There are many risks involved when living together with a partner but not having a cohabitation agreement. You could end up having no protection in the event of separation or the death of your partner.

The consequences of not having a cohabitation agreement can be dire. However, having a cohabitation agreement that is not legally binding, contains ambiguous language, or lacks the required elements to protect your rights and financial interests can be just as bad. That is why you may need to hire a cohabitation attorney to ensure that you and your spouse have a comprehensive and legally-binding agreement.

Cohabitation Attorney Serving Lake County & Cook County, IL

Writing a cohabitation agreement is an essential step to take if you and your partner plan to live together before marriage or as an alternative to marriage. At Goldstein Law Office, I assist clients throughout Lake County and Cook County in Illinois as they draft legally-binding cohabitation agreements tailored to their unique circumstances. Get a case evaluation today to discuss how you can get the protection you need.