Cohabitation agreements in North Carolina
What is Cohabitation?
N.C.G.S. § 50-16.9 states that cohabitation is the act of two adults dwelling together continuously and habitually in a private heterosexual relationship, even if the relationship is not solemnized by marriage, or a private homosexual relationship. Cohabitation is evidenced by the voluntary mutual assumption of those marital rights, duties, and obligations which are usually manifested by married people, and which include, but are not necessarily dependent on, sexual relations.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a form of contract which can be used by unmarried couples who want to decide on how their property would be divided in the event that the separate, or what kind of financial support would be provided in the event of a separation. Keep in mind that this varies from a separation agreement, as a separation agreement contemplates marriage.
Why Enter into a Cohabitation Agreement?
Common law marriages are recognized by some states but North Carolina does not recognize common law marriages. A common law marriage is where the parties to a relationship live together and assume most of the same responsibilities that are presented in a legal marriage. In some states, when the parties have a prolonged period of cohabitation, they could be considered married under common law.
So why should unmarried individuals who are cohabitating in a residence consider an agreement? The answer is that if an agreement is not in place and the couple separates, they may have to take legal action against each other in order to determine who gets what when the relationship ends. Having an agreement in place would alleviate the need for costly litigation and undue delays in time. Cohabitation agreements can aid the couple in the event of a separation.
How Can a Cohabitation Agreement be Created?
Even though a writing is not required in North Carolina, having concrete terms reduced to a written contract will increase the likelihood of the cohabitation agreement’s enforceability in court. It may be important to consult with a family law attorney to discuss the terms of a possible cohabitation agreement and to have it reduced to a writing.
Consider setting up a consultation with a family law lawyer at Gilles Law, PLLC. You can reach us at 980-272-8438 at our office in Uptown Charlotte. We are here to assist with your inquiries.
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