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Cohabitation Agreements in New York

Posted on February 25, 2020

If you and your partner are considering moving in together or are already living together and planning to continue doing so, you may wish to explore the idea of legal cohabitation. A cohabitation agreement is a legal document that you and your partner may collaborate on and eventually sign with the purpose of protecting yourselves and your interests financially and simplifying other details should you ever break up or if the relationship ends due to death.

Cohabitation agreements function similar to (and in some instances may be converted into) prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, especially since common-law marriages are generally not recognized in NY. In addition, a cohabitation agreement could cover legal matters that apply to married couples, but not those simply cohabitating.

What is covered in a New York cohabitation agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are highly customizable depending on your and your partner’s unique circumstances. In general, any issue you might address in a premarital agreement could be appropriate for your cohabitation agreement—and just how a premarital agreement dictates the terms of a divorce, much of a cohabitation agreement dictates the terms of the end to your relationship.

Consider the following details you may choose to include:

  • Custody and visitation of children that are a product of the relationship
  • Custody and visitation of children of either partner but not both (such as from a previous relationship)
  • Child support responsibilities
  • Educational expenses
  • Division of real property and other assets
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Duration and amount of maintenance/support payments for one partner (similar to alimony)
  • Rights to inheritance received by either partner
  • Bank accounts
  • Household expenses
  • Ownership of a business
  • Debt ownership
  • Pet ownership

Sometimes a relationship ends not by choice but due to the death of one partner. In a marriage, the surviving spouse automatically inherits and becomes the sole owner of any joint assets. In a non-married partnership, your cohabitation agreement can designate the surviving partner’s rights to these assets, thereby avoiding confusion or dispute from other surviving family members.

Seek guidance from an experienced NYC matrimonial law attorney for help with your cohabitation agreement

For more than 30 years, the New York City matrimonial attorneys at the Law Office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., have helped individuals and couples develop cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and other unique legal solutions. To learn more about how we can help you, contact our firm online or call (212) 349-1600 today.