Chicago Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers
Although the institution of marriage is alive and well in America, today more and more couples choose to live together for long periods as unmarried couples. Some eventually marry while others don’t. While unmarried, they are likely to accumulate a significant amount of property together, perhaps even buying a home or creating joint bank accounts and credit cards for joint living expenses. What happens to all that property if the couple split up? Illinois courts have been reluctant to grant legal status to the non-marital relationship since Illinois law does not recognize common law marriage. One way out of this dilemma is to create a cohabitation agreement. The top-flight family law attorneys at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC can help you craft an agreement that meets your needs and help you implement such an agreement fairly if the relationship ever turns sour. If you are living with another person outside of marriage, act now to protect yourself and strengthen your relationship. Call our experienced Chicago cohabitation agreement lawyers today.
Illinois Cohabitation Laws
Some states recognize what is called common law marriage, where couples who live together and hold themselves out as being married are considered married for legal purposes even if they never solemnize the relationship through a civil marriage. Illinois is not one of those states. Because of this, courts have been reluctant to view unmarried couples as gaining legal rights that can be decided in a divorce, such as the division of marital property.
How a Cohabitation Agreement Can Help
A cohabitation agreement is a binding contract entered into by people who are living together that outlines their rights and responsibilities toward one another, much as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can affect the rights of married persons. For instance, a cohabitation agreement can spell out how each party’s separate property is to be treated, as well as any property the couple acquires together. A cohabitation agreement can also clarify whether any maintenance or support payments will be made if the couple split, including details regarding the amount, duration, and criteria for termination of such payments.
As a binding contract, cohabitation can be enforced by a court, and it can also be challenged in court. An Illinois court will review the agreement according to principles of Illinois contract law to see whether it meets the requirements of a valid contract. The strongest agreements will be in writing, drafted by an attorney skilled in family law, and signed by both parties after each has had an opportunity to review the agreement with their own independent counsel. The cohabitation agreement attorneys at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC can assist you in any capacity during this process, including advising, negotiating, drafting or reviewing the document on your behalf.
What a Cohabitation Agreement Can’t Do
Cohabitation agreements work best when they are limited to financial and economic matters, such as financial support during and after the relationship, property acquired before or during the relationship, jointly owned assets and debts, and responsibility for living expenses. Agreements that cover issues such as who is responsible for doing certain household chores, or who gets custody of pets, are not likely to be enforced. Similarly, issues regarding custody or support of any children produced by the relationship should not be decided through a cohabitation agreement. Invalid provisions will either not be enforced or could render the entire agreement invalid, depending on how well the agreement is drafted.
When to Get a Cohabitation Agreement
Deciding to move in together is a big step, but it can be hard for couples to know whether a cohabitation agreement is necessary every time and when one should be sought. Some factors that would heavily toward putting a cohabitation agreement in place include:
- A long-term relationship
- Shared children
- A substantial income disparity between the two
- One party chooses to give up their education or career to manage the household or raise children
- One party is supporting the other in advancing their education or career
- One party has business interests or substantial assets
- One party is likely to receive large gifts or inheritance during the relationship
- The couple decide to buy a home or invest in property together
Contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC Today
Whether to get a cohabitation agreement and what should be in it is the subject of a conversation – or series of conversations – to have with your partner. The family law attorneys at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC are here to advise you and answer any questions you have, as well as provide expertise and technical assistance in creating any contract between you and your partner. Contact our experienced Chicago cohabitation agreement lawyers today.