Living Together / Cohabitation — Unmarried Equality

What is cohabitation?

Cohabitation is an arrangement in which couples who are in a relationship but are not legally married live together in one residence.

Questions often arise about unmarried couples who have lived together long enough to have acquired joint assets and debts and in some cases even have children together. In fact, these couples live functionally as a married couple without being legally married.  The question of whether an unmarried couple is defined as cohabiting is important due to the fact in some states these couples are provided similar legal rights to those of a married couple. These states largely recognize common law marriage or domestic partnerships in which couples who meet the requirement of cohabitation for a certain period of time are afforded a legal status similar if not exactly on par with that of a married couple.

Depending on the state these couples enjoy certain legal rights and obligations toward each other regarding financial matters in the event the relationship ends. In fact, in some jurisdictions cohabitation agreements which specify each partner’s right upon a split are enforced. The key however to attaining this type of legal state is cohabitation as a couple which is defined generally as living together in the same residence for an extended period in an intimate relationship in that the relationship involves some form of sexual relationship and is to simply platonic. The definition of cohabitation can include to both same sex and opposite sex couples.  The primary criteria that is applies varies by state and often hinges on the length of time a couple has been living together.

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