This is final piece in a three-part overview of domestic partner/cohabitation agreements. Part one discussed financial and property matters, and part two covered family issues. The final installment below addresses how these agreements can smooth the process of separation.
In the unfortunate event of a separation, a domestic partnership agreement can save the parties the time and expense of litigating their rights and obligations, particularly with respect to property. Clients who contact us after deciding to terminate their partnership most often find parting less stressful if there is a signed agreement that states the partners’ wishes.
Questions to Consider
- What would happen if the relationship was no longer working for you or your partner?If you have an agreement most of the issues, which could cause problems, would be covered. Parting will still be painful, but the agreement will be determined by you before the separation. The agreement would have addressed:
- How the notice of termination is given to each other.
- The time limits for the purchase or sale of the home and the distribution of the equity if it is a joint ownership.
- Distribution of your joint accounts.
- Issues regarding children.
- Any other issues that you determine you want in the agreement.
Remember: each couple is different, and the issues addressed here (and in parts one and two) will not apply in every circumstance. Domestic partner/cohabitation agreements, like most family law matters, need to be tailored to the individuals it serves.
While agreements are not easy to talk about while you are happy with each other, it is better to talk now than at the end of a relationship. Of course, the best outcome would be to create and sign the agreement and then put in a safe place and never have to look at it again!