Recent news articles have described statistics that fewer couples are getting married and more are choosing to simply live together. Nonmarital cohabitation, a lifestyle decision, appears to be less durable than marriage, even when the parties share children.
When an unmarried couple that decided to live together and have children separate, the Courts are available to resolve disputes concerning custody, parenting time and child support. However, a dilemma occurs as can be illustrated by the following telephone call I recently received: "We are not married and have lived together for 7 years. We need to separate. We live with our children in a house my partner owns without my name on the title. I have paid half of the mortgage and bills each months for 7 years and I even took $20,000 out of my savings 2 years ago to redo the kitchen and baby's room. Can I get my contributions to the house back? Can I continue to live there? While we were together, I put all of my income into a joint house account we used to pay bills; yet, my partner put a lot of money into a retirement plan and into a single savings account that my name is not on. And we just took a vacation that was paid on my credit card. What am I entitled to?"
The caller will not be happy with the answer, as there will be no recovery of those contributions. And the uneven contributions to retirement accounts will not be remedied. That is why Attorney Steven Hirsch strongly recommends that parties enter into a negotiated or mediated Cohabitation Agreement. We can help you in the legal representation and preparation of an agreement or we can be a neutral mediator to work with both parties to negotiation the terms of the agreement.