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Life partners have their own unique legal problems and need to put
their own protective mechanisms in place.

Today, a greater number of unmarried couples are living together with no intention of ever getting married. Cohabitation agreements can readily offer legal protection to both parties in the relationship.

In some situations, it is the choice of the individuals (whether male and female or same sex) to remain unmarried. In others, state law may not allow or permit a same sex marriage.

In most states in this country, the law usually does not recognize or give such individuals or life partners many legal rights. However, if the parties do a bit of preparation and enter into the appropriate legal agreements, each can protect his or her interests and can position him or herself to obtain many of the same legal rights as married persons.

The following are several areas where life partners can take steps to protect their interests and create certain rights, interests and benefits between them.

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STATE SPECIFIC Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation agreements are written contracts entered into by two people prior to living together. These people do not intend to become married (if they were intending to become married, the more appropriate agreement would be a "premarital" or "prenuptial" agreement).

These agreements are similar to a pre-marital agreements -- however, rather than being entered into by persons who intend to marry in the near future, they are entered into by two people who intend to cohabit or live together as a family, but will not be legally married. Note that while a pre-marital agreement goes into effect only upon marriage, a cohabitation agreement generally is no longer valid if the parties marry.

Agreements designed for life partners can address various financial and/or property issues that may arise during the cohabitation or relationship of the parties that must be resolved if the relationship ends. Reaching agreement on these difficult issues before they arise (and while the parties are not involved in disagreements or potential hostilities) can ease the stress and anxiety that often arises should the relationship reach that end.

Cohabitation agreements can also provide evidence that the parties intend to live as partners -- and can have the effect of providing the other partner with some rights that would normally be reserved for a spouse.

Usually, cohabitation agreements set forth what financial resources each of the parties will contribute to pay the expenses incurred by the parties while they live together. The agreement usually provides that upon termination of the relationship, the joint property of the parties will be split in the same percentage as the contributions of the parties. Each person usually retains his or her own separate property that brought into the marriage along with certain other property.

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Premarital, Postmarital, and Cohabitation Agreements State By State:

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