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Cohabitation Agreements are Becoming an Explosive Trend in New Jersey
Why are cohabitation agreements becoming an explosive trend?

Prenups are not just for married people anymore. As more and more young couples move in with each other, many are now negotiating agreements that are referred to as dating prenups. These legal documents are also legally known as cohabitation agreements or "cohabs." These type of agreements help modern age couples to sort out who gets what in the event of a breakup. The divorce rate is so high that people are just terrified at the prospects of getting married.

When a typical couple moves in together, they negotiate the usual household issues. Who makes the bed? Who handles the laundry? Who gets flat screen TV? However, there are more pressing issues if the relationship does not work out and if the parties separate. Who gets to keep the security deposit? How is the jointly purchased furniture split? Who gets to keep the cat or the dog? A cohabitation agreement addresses many of the common every day issues that people encounter if they live together. A cohabitation agreement or a pre-prenup forces you to realize that you are sharing just about everything with your life in partner. Making these decisions in advance is a healthy communication tool for many couples. Pre-prenups are something that more and more unmarried New Jersey-ites, hurt by painful and bad breakups are signing. They hope to protect themselves, their property and their pets from happily never afters.

It is important to emphasize that the number of unmarried couples living together shot up 88 percent from 1990 to 2007, according to the US Census Bureau. Therefore, it is no surprise that pre-prenups, also known as cohabitation agreements or cohabs, is an explosive trend in New Jersey. Pre-prenups are particularly common in New Jersey, where common-law marriages aren't recognized and unmarried couples are considered legal strangers unless they have a cohabitation agreements.

Do I have to get a lawyer to prepare a cohabitation agreement?

It is always advisable to retain the services of an experienced family lawyer. However, times are tough now and many people are broker than a door knob. However, if you can't afford to hire a lawyer than even an informal signed document, or even mutually acknowledged e-mails can also serve as a binding contract. Cohabitation agreements can be basic agreements that cover basic issues such as splitting furniture and the security deposit. Alternatively, cohabitation agreements can be somewhat complex and address everything from real estate rights, educational expenses, to partner support, and the splitting of debts.

How can you create your own pre-prenup?

  • You should discuss the subject with your partner and make the decision whether a pre-prenup is necessary, and if it is important to the both of you.
  • If you are established and if you have acquired sizable assets then it is important that you retain a lawyer to assist you. However, if you have little savings and no assets, then you can't split nothing with your partner. Therefore, it would not be necessary to hire legal counsel.
  • You should choose what to include in the cohabitation agreement. The typical items that are addressed in these agreements typically are shared property, partner support, pre-relationship or future debts, joint household purchases, educational expenses, pets, life insurance, health proxies and joint banking accounts among others. Moreover, you can even list the rules for your relationship and possible breakup, although enforcing these can be difficult.
  • It is also important to revisit your prenup whenever a significant life event or change in circumstance occurs in your relationship. If you go from renting to owning together, or one wants to quit work for school, you want to provide for that in the cohabitation.


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New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property in a divorce is to be done fairly, not necessarily equally. The court can take into consideration any factor it deems relevant when dividing property, but it must consider certain factors, such as how long the couple was married and the age and health of both spouses, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that was achieved during the marriage, and the extent to which one spouse may have deferred career goals, among others.
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