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Does New Jersey Recognize Cohabitation Agreements?

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Marriage isn’t for everyone. Whether you never wanted to tie the knot from a personal standpoint or you’ve already been through a divorce, you may not feel it’s worth the hassle. However, when you find the person you want to spend your life with, understanding the legal options to protect yourself and your assets in the event you end the relationship is critical. As such, you should consider creating a cohabitation agreement with your partner. If you’re unfamiliar with what cohabitation agreements entail, you’ll want to keep reading to learn how to create one with the help of a Somerset County divorce attorney.

What Are Cohabitation Agreements?

New Jersey does not recognize common-law marriages, which is a term used to describe a couple with legal rights despite never obtaining a marriage license. When you live with a long-term partner in New Jersey, creating a cohabitation agreement can help protect both parties’ best interests. This essentially provides an outline regarding each person’s responsibilities during the relationship and what will happen if the couple decides to break up or end the relationship. It is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement. As such, the following matters can be addressed in a cohabitation agreement in New Jersey:

  • How any assets you obtain will be treated (joint or separate property)
  • How you will handle your finances
  • How property will be distributed upon your separation
  • If either party is entitled to support upon a breakup
  • If the parties will name each other as beneficiaries under a life insurance policy
  • What will happen to any pets you adopt during your relationship

How Can I Ensure This Is Enforceable?

To ensure your cohabitation agreement is legally binding, it must be in writing, and both parties must disclose their incomes, debts, assets, and liabilities for full disclosure before entering into this agreement. Additionally, both people must sign voluntarily and it must be fair for both parties. Essentially, the agreement cannot leave one party in a significantly worse financial position than the other.

If you and your partner have decided that a cohabitation agreement is in your best interest, it’s important to understand that you should work with an attorney to ensure this is an enforceable matter. Because this is a legally binding contract, obtaining legal guidance for these matters is critical. Though you love and trust your partner, having someone well-versed in family law can ensure you fully understand the terms and conditions in the document and that they reflect your best interest.

At the Siragusa Law Firm, we understand that sharing a life with someone is special. However, breaking up can be complex, as you may not have the same legal protections married couples have. That’s why it may be in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney from our firm who can help you navigate these challenging matters. Connect with us today to learn how we can fight for you.

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