It is increasingly common for couples to move in together before they get married and, sometimes, without any intention of ever getting married. In Minnesota, there is no such thing as common law marriage. Without a valid legal marriage, there is often no right to the assets or earnings of the person you are living with, unless a properly executed cohabitation agreement is entered into.
A cohabitation agreement is used by couples who are living together and want to establish a plan for things like the sharing of living expenses, the division of property in the event the relationship ends, and other agreements regarding the couples’ expectations and wishes regarding property acquired during the relationship.
Importantly, in order for a cohabitation agreement to be enforceable, it must be in writing, signed by the parties, and enforcement must be sought after the relationship has terminated.
A cohabitation agreement is a useful planning tool for couples who have lived together for a long time but do not want to get married. The agreement is especially important if one party is less financially secure than the other. The agreement can help outline the expectations of the parties during the relationship and identify assets that the parties intend to keep separate.
There are ways to protect yourself financially even if you live with a significant other, do not intend to get married, and do not wish to enter into a cohabitation agreement. For example, listing both parties’ names on deeds, titles to cars, etc. is one way to help protect a financial interest in these assets.