Laws Regarding Cohabitation

Laws regarding two individuals who live together without being married have changed substantially over the years. Traditionally, cohabitation was frowned upon but since the early 1970′s, the numbers of couples who live together without being married have increased considerably. More than 5 million couples claimed to be cohabitating in the mid 2000′s; quite an increase from the nearly 550,000 in 1970.

Those couples that do live together without the legal protection of marriage still have a few legal benefits. Partners who are unmarried have no worries of legalities if and when they decide to end their relationship. There are no legal matters that need attending to in order to dissolve their living arrangement. They can simply go their separate ways. Tax benefits are also evident for those who are not married. Unmarried couples can enjoy a greater tax break than two individuals who are also unmarried.

It is important to note however that there are a few benefits to being married. Unmarried couples who are cohabitating do not get the same rights that married couples get. Laws regarding property that is acquired during a marriage do not apply to cohabitation. Even for couples in very long term relationships, some marriage laws simply do not apply and the laws that pertain to the distribution of spousal property upon the death of a spouse also do not apply to couples who live together without being married. Most of the laws regarding the children of unmarried couples however, have been changed to afford them the same rights as children from married couples.

Many states have passed laws that allow for homosexual marriages to take place. Even in light of these laws, many couples prefer to remain unmarried and simply live together. Many choose to have contracts drawn up that are legal and binding. These contracts serve to provide both parties with rights that are similar to those enjoyed by married couples. Many attorneys actually recommend that couples cohabitating have a contract drawn up that outlines certain guidelines such as who gets what in the event that the relationship ends or specifying that the property of one party will go to the other upon the death of either party.

More and more changes are taking place regarding cohabitation as well as the legal marriage of homosexual couples. As these laws continue to change, there may be a time when cohabitating couples are afforded the exact same rights as couples who are married. Different states however have different views and all states may not comply with all guidelines. If you are currently cohabitating and you have questions about your rights or the rights of your partner, it is best to check with an attorney and have that attorney advise you on the best way to protect yourself and your partner in the future. Contracts can be drawn up that outline certain preferences and a last will and testament can be put into place to regulate where property goes upon the death of you or your partner.

About the Author