Cohabitation Agreements a Trendy Option for Asset Protection

by Thailand Lawyer on June 13, 2011

If couples in a long-term relationship either do not wish to get married or face legal impediments to do so, an option to protect each partner’s assets might exist in the creation of an agreement similar to a prenuptial agreement. This agreement, known as a cohabitation agreement, is legally enforceable for couples that live together but are not married.

In a poll of US divorce attorneys, the numbers indicate that unmarried couples involved in court cases is on the rise. The figures do not indicate if all of these unmarried couples are heterosexual, biological male-female couples, however. Therefore, it could be said that this type of legally binding agreement might be an option for LGBT community wishing to protect their own assets, or even for other couples that are not yet divorced and pending marriage.

US Attorneys drafting cohabitation agreements normally request that signatories to write down their expectations for the relationship, and the plan of action to follow should there be a foul turn along the way. Regardless of whether the couple ended the relationship of their own accord, or a situation occurred (including death of one party) to effectively end the relationship, this type of agreement covers the financial obligations outlined by both parties. It can be an intensely detailed description breaking down health insurance to medical decisions, pet ownership to house ownership.

Even though more and more heterosexual couples are choosing to remain unmarried, this type of agreement could also perhaps be of huge benefit to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and others falling into a category broadly deemed as “queer”, as well as any other individual that faces challenges with the US legal system in obtaining a legally sanctioned marriage. A cohabitation agreement could serve as a relatively stable alternative while America’s legal definition of marriage still hangs in limbo.

This type of agreement has actually been in existence for some time. In the case of tennis star Martina Navratilova, a signed and videotaped cohabitation agreement between Navratilova and her then-partner Judy Nelson held up in court, and led to a lengthy palimony suit for $16 million that was eventually settled out of court.

Under Thai law a cohabitation agreement may be enforced if drafted correctly under Thai contract law.

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