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Cohabitation Agreements Can Play Useful Role for Michigan Couples Living Together

The statistics on marriage are telling. In 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, married couples had declined to only 51 percent of U.S. households.

The trend seems likely to continue as well. From 2009 to 2010, the Pew study found, the number of new marriages dropped by 5 percent.

These figures don't necessarily mean that great numbers of people are choosing to live alone. Instead, the number of cohabitating couples is large and getting larger.

The U.S. Census bureau estimated that in 2010, there were 7.5 million opposite-sex couples living together outside of marriage. This was a 13 percent increase from 2009.

Couples who choose to live together should closely consider, however, the consequences for their property rights if the relationship goes sour. It may make sense to get a cohabitation agreement in place. As Michigan property and debt division attorneys, we see the impact every day of the choices people have made about how to structure their relationships.

You might think that you don't need to use a legal contract to define your home-sharing arrangement. But if you don't have an agreement in place, you could lose out on important property rights that married couples take for granted.

For example, if you are cohabitating and the relationship dissolves, questions will arise about who gets which property and who owes which debts. The specific property in question could be a specific item, like flat-screen TV or a pet. It could also be something of great monetary value, such as a retirement account.

Even if you are the spouse with the higher-income producing skills, a cohabitation agreement play a useful role. It can do this by limiting your potential liability for a broader settlement in the event that you are your cohabitating partner split up.

Source: "Cohabitation Rights for Unmarried Couples,"

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