Fans of The Big Bang Theory are familiar with at Sheldon and Amy’s relationship agreement which dictates date night and other rules of their romantic relationship. While the idea of such a contract may seem strange outside of its comedic intent, many cohabitating couples are opting for their own relationship agreements.
Elite Daily recently reported on a growing trend of relationship agreements known as “no-nups”. The article refers to no-nups as the prenuptial agreement for millennials who chose to cohabitate.
Although Evening Standard reports that a no-nup has yet to be held up in court, it should not be a surprise that such an agreement is on the rise. According to a recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics, almost half of all surveyed women ages 15-44 lived with a partner without the bond or promise of marriage.
“Instead of marriage, people are moving into cohabitation as a first union,” said Casey Copen, author of the report in an interview with USA Today. “It’s kind of a ubiquitous phenomenon now.”
According to Evening Standard, no-nups are aimed at protecting property and assets own by each partner before cohabitating and ensure ownership is retained after the relationship ends. It can also make clear that any assets and debts incurred during the relationship be divided equally. The contact can also specify who is responsible for which expenses during the cohabitation period.
Pennsylvania family lawyer Thomas Petrelli suggests that cohabitating couples preparing to separate consider:
- Who gets the house and assets?
- How is child custody split?
- Who pays child support?
- Is this considered a common law marriage? Couples who reside within states that recognize or previously recognized common law marriages could be entitled to the same legal treatment as divorcing spouses.
In addition to drafting a no-nup, certified financial planner Niv Persaud told USA Today that “it is important for couples to discuss upfront their financial situation and prepare for what happens if one becomes ill , dies or leaves the relationship because they are not protected by the benefits of a legally married couple.” Estate planning, including drafting a will, can ensure that a partner is designated as the beneficiary upon the death of the other. This can also give one partner the right to make healthcare directives and decisions for the other in the event he or she cannot do so.
Separation of unmarried couples has often been more difficult than a divorce between married spouses because of the lack of legal proceedings to divide assets and debt. An agreement between cohabitation couples could make the dissolution process less of a headache.