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  • Writer's pictureSummers Family Law

Thinking of Moving in Together in Massachusetts? Why You Need a Cohabitation Agreement

As an experienced family law attorney in Massachusetts, I've worked with unmarried couples over the years who have decided to move in together and combine their lives and finances. While this major relationship milestone is exciting, I always caution clients that they should consider creating a cohabitation agreement before taking the plunge.

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract between unmarried partners that spells out the financial and property rights of each person during the relationship and in the event of a separation. Without one, you'd be surprised how messy and expensive things can become if you ultimately break-up down the road. I've seen firsthand how devastating a split can be for couples who commingled assets without any clear guidelines in place.

That's why I always recommend cohabitation agreements for my clients who are shacking up. A good cohabitation agreement in Massachusetts will protect both you and your partner by addressing important considerations such as:

  • How you'll split joint expenses like rent, utilities and groceries

  • Who owns what property that you bring into the relationship

  • How you'll divide assets acquired together during the relationship

Additionally, a cohabitation agreement allows you to sidestep the "common law marriage" issue that applies in some states. Here in Massachusetts, there is no such thing as common law marriage — you have to obtain an actual marriage license for your union to be legally valid.

Bottom line: I strongly encourage all of my unmarried clients to invest the time and money into creating a thoughtful cohabitation agreement before moving in together. It can save you from a ton of mess, stress and expense on the back end if the relationship doesn't work out. Be smart — protect yourself, your partner and your assets with a cohabitation agreement. Don't make the mistake of thinking it will "never happen to us." I've heard that before and when relationships go south, people often regret not having an agreement in place. Contact my office today to get the process started — you'll be glad you did!

Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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