Marriage might be in your future and it might not. No matter how your life together turns out, the main goal now is to live together because you know you’ve found the one. You know that in spite of the arguments, the disagreements, and the personality differences, there’s no other person in the world you’d rather share a house with than your partner. Under the Family Law Act, as a de facto couple (those who aren’t married and have lived together for at least two years, and who may or may not have a child from that relationship), you’re still legally entitled to enter into a binding financial agreement, or a cohabitation agreement.
The Family Law Act allows de facto couples to have a right to legally settle disputes over property and, should it apply, children. This also involves having the right to spousal support. In effect, your relationship, despite the absence of a church wedding and a marriage document, will get the same sort of benefits that every married couple has in the event of a separation. It will certainly make good sense on your part to want to protect the assets you’ve brought into the relationship.
You might own the house that you and your partner live in. You might run your own business or you might be an equity partner at a firm. You might have just received inheritance. You might have children from a previous marriage or your relationship might result in a child. All these and other such considerations will be addressed on cohabitation agreements.
Like a prenuptial agreement, the legally binding document can be drafted before you intend to enter into a de facto relationship or during. The agreement details the distribution of property, provision for spousal or child support, and other financial matters should you and your partner separate. To make it binding, you and your partner will need to consult legal advice before entering into any agreement, preferably with an accredited family lawyer. Once you’ve satisfied any enquiries or reservations you might have, your lawyer will execute the financial agreement, which should be amenable to both you and your partner.
Finding the right partner or soul mate is well and good. A cohabitation agreement may seem antithetical to the whole idea of wanting to spend your life with one person. But statistically three out of five de facto couples end up parting ways. Cohabitation agreements might not prevent a break up, but it will guarantee a hostile-free separation that ensures you and your partner’s interests are protected.