Cohabitation Agreement

These agreements are usually drawn up between unmarried people who wish to define the property and support issues in the event that they separate.   

If there is no cohabitation agreement between an unmarried couple,  or if the cohabitation agreement does not deal with certain issues,  then outstanding property  division and support issues will be determined in accordance with the laws of constructive or resulting trust, or under the Family Law Act.  For example, if two unmarried people work together to build a business, or contribute to the maintenance of a house, but on title or agreement the property is owned by only one partner, then the untitled partner may claim that the titled partner holds a portion of the property in trust for him or her..  Proving or disproving such a “constructive trust” claim often involves a complex court proceeding.

 Further, if an unmarried couple is together for more than three years, or if they have a child, then one party may claim spousal support from the other.

A cohabitation agreement can specify each party’s rights to their property, if and how that property will be shared in the event of separation.  They are particularly useful in protecting a family business from a claim by an unmarried spouse to a valuable interest  in the business in the event of separation.

Further, the parties may choose to waive spousal support.  This may be documented in the agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is useful when there are children from previous relationships.  The agreement can confirm the step parent’s support and custody obligations, if any, to the children.   

If the parties later marry, then the cohabitation agreement is deemed to be a marriage contract unless otherwise specified.