Cohabitation in general is becoming a more popular life choice instead of getting married. That’s because many people see marriage as just a bit of paper and that their love and relationship shouldn’t be defined as such. However, there are some serious ramifications of choosing to cohabitate instead of marriage. These downsides can still have an impact even if you ever decide to get married. So, before you decide to just cohabitate as a couple, take a look at some of these downsides and consider the benefits of being married.
It is a good idea to make sure you have a thorough cohabitation agreement in place when you decide to live together. However, it’s worth noting that even if you do have a good one, it may have limited value and will only be considered as a wish list, not what will actually happen.
Take as an example, if you have children together. It is best that the cohabitation agreement outlines the way you want your kids to be brought up and how they will be supported financially. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be taken into consideration, though. If problems arise and you split, for instance, and have a custody battle about the children and who is legally supposed to pay what amount for child support, how much visitation rights do you get and most crucially, who actually gets custody.
As family law judges will be involved in the case, they need to think about the child’s best interests. If the cohabitation agreement contradicts or conflicts in any way with their best interests, the courts will be within their rights to make the final decision about what happens to your children, regardless of what is stated in your cohabitation agreement.
When a couple has children, in the majority of states, during marriage, they are considered to be the legal offspring of that couple. However, if a couple has children outside of marriage, when they are merely cohabitating, it is not as straight forward. In order to establish the child’s legal paternity, and your legal responsibilities and rights, you need to take various extra steps, including court hearings and blood tests.
Another problem that comes from cohabitation over marriage is that there is more involved in making sure your partner gets your estate if you die. It automatically passes from you to your partner, if you are married, in the event of your death. If you aren’t married, though, it normally goes to the next of kin. Therefore, without having a valid will in place that identifies your partner as your beneficiary, someone you may not want to have your property after your gone, may get it by default.
As well as leaving your partner financially short, this can also cause all kinds of rifts and unpleasantness between family members once you’ve gone.
Cohabitation Before Marriage
There are even problems that can arise if you cohabitate first and then decide to get married at a later time. For instance, a state’s divorce and marriage laws only apply from the date you tied the knot, not how long you’ve been living together.
Although there is more to marriage and living together than the financial and legal side of things, they are worth considering.