Saying “I do” is not in everyone’s future, and not because those people have failed at finding love. It’s just that the attitudes regarding marriage and family have changed in this country. No more is marriage seen as a necessary step to creating a family and home with a partner.
The Pew Research Center reports that only 51 percent of adults will marry. A large remainder of the others won’t marry, but they will still move forward with cohabitating with their partners and sharing the same things that married couples do, including assets, debts and children. For that reason, it’s becoming more popular for unmarried couples to create their own versions of prenuptial agreements with family law attorneys.
Many divorce attorneys of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers report seeing a rise in the number of unmarried clients who seek help creating what are called cohabitation agreements. The agreements are common among same-sex couples (since they don’t have the same rights as heterosexual couples with regards to marriage), but the attorneys also note that the majority of couples who create cohabitation agreements are heterosexual.
A contract between unmarried partners protects them in the same way as a prenuptial agreement protects spouses should the union end. The partners in either situation can decide what will happen to community property and debt should the relationship fizzle. Also, stipulations regarding child custody and financial support are also drawn up in either type of agreement.
Setting up those legal details within a relationship is a way for couples to avoid the nastiness that can develop later in the midst of such decision making, after partners, married or not, no longer get along. Love can be fleeting, so why not create a contract that can at least leave some stress out of the mix while things are good and protect a friendship?
Source: CNN Money, “Prenups aren’t just for married couples anymore,” Jessica Dickler, March, 20, 2012