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Cohabitation Agreements

The law office of Phyllis G. Bossin & Associates, A Legal Professional Association, offers decades of experience in representing clients in Hamilton and surrounding counties, as well as northern Kentucky.

Unmarried persons who are cohabiting do not enjoy any legal status in Ohio. No rights exist in the common law, and the lack of rights for unmarried persons has been made abundantly clear by the recent passage of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and stating that unmarried persons shall not be entitled to the legal incidents of marriage.

Therefore, in order to define the rights and responsibilities of their relationships, couples, whether same-sex or heterosexual, must enter into a written cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement can at least partially protect the couple by defining their rights and obligations with regard to one another. These agreements allow parties to set forth their rights and responsibilities, and can provide for a forum in which they can resolve any differences. Many such contracts provide for binding arbitration or mediation.

The cohabitation agreement can provide for the division of property (real and personal), and can provide for how the parties’ income will be allocated and how other assets and debts will be divided.

These agreements cannot, however, bestow the rights and privileges of marriage. Although there is no actual requirement under Ohio law that such agreements be in writing, courts have been very rigid in granting redress in cases where the agreement is purely oral. There is no authority under Ohio law for dividing property merely because the couple cohabited. In other words, there is no implied contractual relationship that exists between two people who choose to live together without the benefit of marriage.

Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement should identify all of the assets and liabilities being brought to the relationship by both parties, as well as the income of both parties. The agreement should provide for how this property and income will be treated if the relationship terminates and how any property acquired during the relationship will be treated. The agreement may also provide for the support of one of the parties or a waiver of support.

As with a prenuptial agreement, both parties should be represented by counsel, and there must be full and complete disclosure of all assets and liabilities, and the agreement must be entered into without fraud, undue influence or duress. Negotiating such an agreement requires skilled and experienced lawyers. Our attorneys bring such skills to this process.

To learn more or to set up a consultation, contact our office in Cincinnati at 513-421-4420 or use our online contact form.

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