What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal document that non-married parties will enter into during the course of their relationship.
In some ways, a Cohabitation Agreement has similar qualities to a Prenuptial Agreement. The main thing that a Cohabitation Agreement will address is the property rights of the parties. It is not uncommon for non-married couple to acquire real estate. In fact, mortgage companies freely grant non-married couples mortgages in which both parties are jointly obligated. A Cohabitation Agreement will address the disposition of such real estate if should the relationship come to an end. Additionally, couples that are living together will frequently acquire other assets such as household furnishings, boats and campers, artwork, etc. A Cohabitation Agreement should address these assets as well.
Are Cohabitation Agreements binding in Michigan?
Yes, Michigan law gives legal effect to Cohabitation Agreements. It is helpful if it can be shown that each party used their own separate attorney during the negotiation of the Cohabitation Agreement. The agreement will very specifically address issues such as real estate acquired, as well as other personal property acquired. The agreement will also address what happens if the relationship were to dissolve. A good Cohabitation Agreement will also have enforcement provisions which describe what happens should either party later be in violation of the agreement.
Can a Cohabitation Agreement also include an agreement regarding custody and visitation of the minor children born to the parties?
No, Michigan law will not recognize an agreement that non-married couples enter into regarding future custody and visitation of minor children. Custody and visitation of minor children are issues that are solely reserved by Michigan’s family courts and the Friend of the Court.
How can I be sure a Cohabitation Agreement is binding?
First, there is no such thing as an implied agreement or an oral agreement (even if heard by others.) A binding Cohabitation Agreement must be in writing and must have been freely signed by both parties.
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