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The Secret New Jersey Family Lawyers Know: Cohabitation Agreements Can Be More Important Than Prenuptial Agreements

February 27, 2012 | Posted In Family Law - Cohabitation Agreements, Prenuptial Agreements

More couples are choosing to live together under the same roof outside of marriage.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010, more than 45 percent of American households were run by unmarried couples.  New Jersey family lawyers strongly recommend a cohabitation agreement for people who wish to live together outside of marriage.

A cohabitation agreement may be even more important than a prenuptial agreement because New Jersey does not offer cohabiting couples legal protections similar to those that married couples enjoy.  In fact, New Jersey is one of the states that does not recognize common-law marriages.

Married couples in New Jersey have rights that include inheritance rights and property ownership rights, as well as the right to make medical decisions for their spouses. Non-married couples --  despite often sharing children, a jointly-purchased home and all the emotional ties of a marriage – are left virtually unprotected. This is a huge concern for New Jersey family lawyers, who see the negative affects on families when such relationships dissolve, a death occurs or when medical crisis arise.

The solution? A cohabitation agreement can answer many of the important legal questions that affect unmarried couples living together, including questions about:

  • Division of property in the event the relationship ends;
  • Who will bear the financial burdens in the household;
  • Whether to designate each other as a beneficiary life insurance policies; and
  • Who will have the right to make medical decisions for each other in case one partner falls ill.

  People who wish to live together must also decide whether they want to register under the New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act, which allows individuals who are in a personal, emotional and committed relationship with another person to be eligible for certain rights, including the right to make medical decisions and be granted hospital visitation rights.

The New Jersey family lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons in divorce, child support, child custody and other family law-related matters across New Jersey.


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