Are you living in sin and wondering how to protect yourself from a common law marriage claim in case your relationship doesn’t work out? We’re kidding about the sin.
Let’s talk about how to put together an effective and legally binding cohabitation agreement. You’re probably wondering why you’d want to avoid a common law marriage claim in the state of Colorado. Well, we are six states plus D.C. in the whole country who have common law marriage. So if you have any assets at all, you may want to protect them in the event your relationship, your live-in relationship, doesn’t work out the way you want it to.
The Drake Law Firm encourages our clients to have a cohabitation agreement signed before they move in with their new partner. The first thing a cohabitation agreement should say is that the parties have no intention of getting married and no intention of being deemed common law married.
So, as you can tell, it’s a very romantic document. Of course, we’re joking. There are other terms it should address, for example, what is the contribution is going forward of each member of the relationship? And and what does it look like in terms of household expenses or if you’re buying real property together? Can one person put 80% down and one person can put 20% down? Do you want that memorialized in the agreement. So in the event things don’t work out you can actually take the equity out of the house in proportion to what you’ve contributed.
What if you have a bunch of huskies?
A cohabitation agreement needs to be really thorough with regard to the rights and responsibilities of each party to that cohabitation agreement. So, for example, if one party is coming into the relationship with 17 elderly Siberian huskies, well, perhaps the cohabitation agreement needs to address the cost of potential vet bills and whether or not the other party will be contributing, and if so, in what kind of proportion or approximately how much.
How precise does a cohabitation agreement need to be?
So those kinds of details are necessary, but you might not always need to be so detailed. For example, if you’re an engineer and there are a couple of engineers here in Golden, Colorado, you don’t want to say, “I will contribute $39.11 every month to the electric bill and you’re going to contribute $78.23.” That kind of detail is going to make you crazy, and that’s going to make your lawyer crazy.
So let’s not do that. Because cohabitation agreements are legally enforceable contracts, and what is in the four corners of that contract is something that may end up in court someday, you may want to consult an attorney and make sure it’s written well and written in a way that’s not absurd or unenforceable.
We love doing cohabitation agreements, even though they’re not terribly romantic, we feel like laying out the financial responsibilities and the rights of the parties in a relationship is a good idea going forward, and everybody’s transparent at that point, and then there’s no unrealistic expectations of, say, common law marriage going into the relationship. If you’re in those first heady days of your romantic relationship with your partner and you’re thinking about moving in together, but you’re not thinking about financial transparency and protecting what assets you may have at the moment or what assets are coming your way, consider coming and talking to our cohabitation agreement lawyers. We put together a lot of cohabitation agreements in the state and we’re happy to help you protect your assets moving forward.