Cohabitation Agreements Lawyer Chicago
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two individuals that share a residence together. It sets out specific terms as to how the parties intend to address their rights and divide property in the event that they separate. Cohabitation agreements are much like prenuptial agreements; however, prenuptial agreements contemplate a marriage in order to ratify the parties’ agreement whereas cohabitation agreements do not contemplate marriage.
What kind of legal issues arise with cohabitation agreements?
Two sets of issues may arise regarding any cohabitation agreement or contract. The first is the issue of enforcement of the cohabitation agreement or contract. In order to ensure that there is a valid contract, our recommendation would be for each party to conduct a full and complete disclosure of their individual, separate assets prior to entering into the cohabitation agreement. Our experience demonstrates that such a full disclosure not only assists the parties in understanding their respective financial positions but also, if there were to be a dispute as to the validity of the contract later, full disclosure ensures that the contract is less likely to be set aside and/or disregarded. The second set of potential issues relates to the terms of the agreement, the interpretation of those terms, and/or the failure to include anticipated concerns that may not be addressed in the agreement. Both parties should be represented by counsel; each party should have their own Chicago cohabitation agreement attorney to ensure that a valid contract is achieved and understood and also to demonstrate that there is no undue influence of one party over the other.
How does your firm help people with cohabitation agreements?
Our family law firm’s Chicago cohabitation agreement attorneys have broad experience and knowledge in all areas of family law which includes drafting cohabitation agreements. Our Chicago cohabitation agreement lawyers are dedicated to meeting with clients to thoroughly explain their rights, options, and ultimate agreements with their partners as it relates to their property. We take the time to communicate our knowledge with clarity, honesty, and integrity. Our clients are fully informed of their legal rights with or without a cohabitation agreement, and, with their involvement, we would prepare an initial draft of the cohabitation agreement so that the client fully understands the terms. Our qualified Chicago cohabitation agreement attorneys completely answer all questions and address any concerns that our clients may have with regard to the cohabitation agreement.
What should parties, particularly with children, consider before entering into a cohabitation agreement?
There are a growing number of cases in which partners are having children out of wedlock. Cohabitation agreements, as well as any prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, are usually ineffective in dealing with children’s issues, custody, allocation of parental decision making, parenting time, visitation and child support. Pursuant to Illinois law, the Court retains jurisdiction at the time there is a dispute as to these issues regardless of what cohabitation agreement sets out. In other words, the parents cannot waive the rights of future children. Nonetheless, the parties may set forth in the cohabitation agreement their intentions and desires regarding their children in the event that they are no longer partners. Ultimately, the Court allocates parenting time, parenting decision making and support of children in the children’s best interests pursuant to Statute.
Is a cohabitation agreement strictly to protect parties’ assets and sort out financial responsibilities during a period of cohabitation?
Under Illinois law, if partners do not have a cohabitation agreement, a party’s financial rights may not be recognized and/or protected. Therefore, if anyone is contemplating a long-term unmarried relationship, they should execute a cohabitation agreement that sets forth how claims or causes of action against each other in the event of a separation would be resolved, including a remedy for addressing future claims or causes of action, as well as their intent as to addressing any and all property rights that exist during the relationship. Future causes of action that parties should consider when entering into a cohabitation agreement include, among other matters, property rights, alimony or maintenance claims, marriage, impeded marriages, children/adoption, custody/visitation actions, child support, trusts and other assets, probate rights, loss of consortium rights, insurance policies and other contractual rights.
Does a cohabitation agreement have any impact in a divorce proceeding should the parties eventually marry and later divorce?
While any written agreement is a factor for the Court to consider when dividing marital property, it would be our recommendation for partners that were parties to a cohabitation agreement who had decided to marry to contact a Chicago cohabitation agreement attorney in order to review the cohabitation agreement and convert it to a prenuptial agreement since there are different rights that exist to married partners than partners who cohabitate. There have been recent cases in which unmarried parties’ rights were not protected because there was not a cohabitation agreement. Some of those cases have resulted in parties that had shared real estate for an extended period of time losing any or all rights to any interest in the real estate. Based on historic Illinois case law, it is our recommendation that anyone that is contemplating cohabitation for a long period of time and co-investing in real estate or other assets should have a cohabitation agreement.