Unmarried couples living together is an increasingly common occurrence nowadays, with a reported 6 million couples in the US doing so. A variety of financial and lifestyle benefits push unmarried couples to make these choices, including being able to share expenses and having more freedom in deciding whether or not to move for job opportunities. These modern conveniences have allowed people to live together without legal commitment, but they can also come with risks. Our team at Baxter Harder, LLC explains how living together agreements could be crucial to protecting your assets in an unmarried relationship.
The Legal Rights of Unmarried Couples
Marriage is often considered the traditional benchmark for couples who want to be together, and it's important to understand that there are drastic legal differences between married and unmarried couples. Unmarried couples do not possess the same automatic rights and responsibilities as married couples. These include protections in the event of divorce, such as equitable division of assets, tax benefits, intestate rights, and the ability to extend healthcare coverage and social security benefits to a spouse. Unmarried couples may face difficulties in child custody and adoption, survivorship rights, and other financial concerns.
However, most states now recognize certain legal benefits for unmarried couples who choose to register their relationship with a domestic partnership.
Who Can Register for a Domestic Partnership in Oregon?
Those living in Oregon who are of the same or opposite sex and are 18 years of age or older can register for a domestic partnership. Other requirements include both people needing to be unmarried, not closely related, and having a signed affidavit confirming a common residence within Oregon.
What is a Living Together Agreement?
A living together agreement, also known as a cohabitation agreement, is designed for unmarried couples who have elected to live in the same space. The main purpose of the agreement is to protect and document the rights and responsibilities of both parties should their relationship end. It covers topics like financial arrangements, decision-making authority, division of property, and other aspects unique to living together outside of marriage. Having written expectations in place, it serves as an important record of what both parties had previously agreed upon and can eliminate future confusion or legal disputes. Creating a living together agreement is especially important if two individuals are bringing assets with them into the relationship or signing a lease on joint housing. Even if you don’t think you need one right now, it can be wise to create this type of agreement before any disputes arise so that everyone has clarity and peace of mind.
How to Set Up a Living Together Agreement
Setting up a legal living together agreement can be a great way to ensure that both you and your partner have rights if the relationship ends. Without an agreement in place, the law may not recognize the rights of those who live together outside of traditional marriage. When setting up a living together agreement, it is important to include details like the duration of the relationship, how finances will be handled, and each person's rights involved in decision-making. Depending on your state, there may even be specific forms that need to be signed as part of the process. Furthermore, it is best practice to have a lawyer review your agreement before signing to ensure that each partner's interests are properly protected. With this in place, couples can live more securely, knowing their rights are safeguarded should anything happen.
Attorneys in Bend, Oregon
At Baxter Harder, LLC, we offer personalized counsel for each client’s individual needs. Our lawyers take an interest in our clients as people–understanding their unique situation–and helping them craft a plan based on their goals and values. For more information about our services or to discuss drafting a living together agreement, call (541) 238-9210 or click here.