Listen to Our Radio Show: Cohabitation Agreements Can Keep Your Relationship Healthy
What is a cohabitation agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is a contract you enter into with your life partner, spouse, or fiancé. A cohabitation agreement can be a prenuptial agreement (aka “prenup”), a cohabitation agreement, or a postnuptial agreement.
Who should consider a cohabitation agreement?
Anyone with investment accounts, cash, inheritance, and/or real property who is living with a romantic partner, earning income and/or making investments during the relationship. In Washington, when you marry and when you start living with someone, you may be subjecting yourself to a set of rules and responsibilities imposed on you by the court. A cohabitation agreement affords you both the opportunity to choose your own adventure by making agreements about what rights and responsibilities seem mutually fair to both of you.
Are cohabitation agreements enforceable in a court?
It depends. Although cohabitation agreements have historically been somewhat disfavored in Washington state, some are enforced if the contract passes judicial muster. Depending on the types of assets and issues involved, a prenuptial agreement may need to pass a two or three prong test to be upheld. Generally, the test will require determining whether the prenuptial agreement is substantively fair and also whether it is procedurally fair. The burden of proof is typically on the spouse seeking to enforce the agreement.
Doesn’t getting a prenuptial agreement effectively guarantee a divorce?
We like to think that a good prenup agreement prepared by skilled lawyers can actually divorce-proof your marriage. Why? Because the process brings to the surface unexpressed expectations about marriage at a time when a couple may be psychologically more able to withstand having difficult conversations that can otherwise lead to the gradual decline of a marriage. There are many people who enjoyed being married and find themselves getting divorced. The reality is that a divorce can present itself regardless of whether or not a couple takes the time to get a prenup.
How do I talk to my fiancé or significant other about drawing up a prenuptial agreement?
I recommend being bold and having a frank discussion. Consider the prenup agreement to be a means to support you in tackling sticky subjects, to improve your communication, and to enhance your commitment to one another.
Contact Our Seattle Family Law Firm
If you have further questions or want to arrange a confidential consultation, please contact us today. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue and can meet with you in one or both of those locations as needed. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve the solutions you seek.