The longer that unmarried couples live together, the more property they accumulate together. Because these relationships don’t always last forever, it is a good idea for cohabitating couples to write out a property agreement which describes who owns what in the relationship and determines how property will be divided in the event the couple separates.
A property agreement, which may also be known as a “Living Together Agreement” or “Nonmarital Agreement,” is a binding agreement which spells out who owns what during the duration of the relationship and divides a couples’ assets in the event that the couple separates. Unmarried couples buy property, mix assets, and invest together. Sometimes couples who separate without an agreement can mutually agree upon how the assets are divided amicably, but more often than not, break-ups are not amicable and figuring out who walks away with what becomes contentious.
No. While it’s advisable that property agreements be written so there is no ambiguity as to who owns what, in some states, a formal written agreement need not be created. In those instances, so long as the couple acts as though an agreement exists, the court will enforce it. For instance, if one party buys a car during the relationship and is the sole user of the car, the court will acknowledge that party as the owner of the vehicle.
In general, agreements between unmarried couples are enforceable so long as they cover property (both real property and personal property), payment in exchange for someone giving something up (such as one spouse quitting school to support the other spouse who’s in medical school), and payment for services (excluding sex).
Most property agreements include the following:
It’s always a good idea to have a property agreement drafted if you decide to buy real property with your significant other. Because buying a house is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make, it is especially important that a well-crafted property agreement be created.
A property agreement relating to real estate purchases should include the following:
No. As part of an unmarried couple, one party does not become liable for the other party’s debt unless that is specifically agreed upon by both parties.
A property agreement can be complicated, especially if you own many assets. A good family law attorney can help you draft a comprehensive property agreement. Moreover, if you have a property agreement in place, and you feel that it is not being adhered to, you should contact a skilled family law attorney to help you enforce the agreement.
Last Modified: 03-12-2018 08:38 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.