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Marriage And Cohabitation Agreements – What Can They Include?

In our last post, we talked about three legal fundamentals concerning marriage and cohabitation agreements – including contract terms that are not enforceable. In this week’s post, we discuss the kinds of issues that spouses typically include or may choose to include in these agreements.

Reasons For Having A Contract

A valid marriage or cohabitation agreement can serve a number of purposes. Primarily, these legal documents help couples make advance decisions on contentious issues that are likely to arise at the end of the relationship. However, couples may also use them to clarify their expectations of each other during the course of the relationship itself.

Common Issues To Include

In most cases, marriage or cohabitation agreements set out legal obligations impacting each party’s financial interests. Although the law has specific rules on dividing family property and debt after a separation, a couple may agree in writing to make their own customized arrangements.

For instance, rather than following the automatic 50/50 split of family property, a couple may agree to an unequal division, such as 30/70.

In another example, the law excludes certain property from equal division – such as a gift or inheritance directed at only one spouse. A couple may decide instead that over time, one party may have an increasing share in such excluded property.

Aside from financial issues, the agreement may include arrangements for spousal support. It might also specify which party has the right to live in the couple’s habitual residence after separation.

An agreement may discuss issues related to children that one spouse brings into the relationship. Although it may also include provisions for the care of children born during the relationship, such clauses will not be binding if the couple separates.

The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott have years of experience assisting clients to draft legally protective marriage and cohabitation agreements.

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