Cupid’s Contract Part 1: Understanding Cohabitation Agreements for Unmarried Couples in New Jersey

In the realm of modern relationships, many couples opt for cohabitation as a natural progression of their commitment, foregoing traditional marriage. While living together without tying the knot has its perks, it also brings about legal considerations that shouldn’t be overlooked.

As all lovers around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day today, this 2-part blog post delves into the legal implications and benefits of cohabitation agreements for unmarried couples who reside together in New Jersey.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement, also known as an unmarried couples’ contract or a living together agreement, is a legal document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of unmarried couples who choose to live together. It covers various aspects of their lives, including finances, property ownership, debts, and potential separation arrangements.

Legal Implications in New Jersey

New Jersey doesn’t recognize common-law marriage, meaning that simply living together for a certain period doesn’t automatically grant couples the legal rights and protections that married couples enjoy. Therefore, unmarried couples in New Jersey may find themselves vulnerable in the event of a breakup or dispute, especially concerning shared assets and financial matters.

However, with a well-crafted cohabitation agreement, couples can proactively address these concerns and establish clear guidelines for their relationship. This agreement allows them to define how assets will be divided, determine financial responsibilities, and plan for the distribution of property in the event of a separation.

Cohabitation Agreements Protect Assets

Here is how you can use a cohabitation agreement to clearly outline ownership of all of the property and assets acquired during your relationship:

  • Define separate property: Specify which assets each partner brings into the relationship and declare them as separate property. This can include savings accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings. In the event of a death or separation, each party would keep whatever they brought into the relationship.
  • Address jointly acquired property: Detail how property acquired jointly during the relationship will be owned and managed. This can include a primary residence, joint bank accounts, vehicles purchased together, and shared investments.
  • Determine how to treat future acquisitions: Address how any property obtained during the relationship will be treated in case of separation or death. Determine whether it will be considered joint property or remain separate.

Specify how joint assets will be divided in case of separation or death:

  • Equitable distribution: Determine the method of dividing joint assets in the event of a breakup, taking into account factors such as financial contributions, length of the relationship, and future needs of each partner.
  • Disposition of property: Outline procedures for the sale, transfer, or buyout of jointly owned property, ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of assets.
  • Provisions for death: Plan for the distribution of assets in the event of the death of one partner, including provisions for inheritance, life insurance proceeds, and retirement accounts.

Cohabitation Agreements Provide Financial Clarity

You may use a cohabitation agreement to establish your respective financial responsibilities, including payment of rent, utilities, and other shared expenses. Here is how:

  • Define shared expenses: Identify and specify which living expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and household maintenance costs, will be shared between partners.
  • Individual contributions: Outline each partner's financial contributions to shared expenses, taking into account differences in income, financial resources, and non-monetary contributions to the household.
  • Contingency plans: Address how unexpected expenses or financial emergencies will be handled, such as medical bills, repairs, or unemployment.

Address how debts and liabilities will be managed during the relationship and after a breakup:

  • Disclosure of debts: Require full disclosure of any outstanding debts or financial obligations held by each partner, including credit card debt, student loans, and personal loans.
  • Responsibility for debts: Determine responsibility for existing debts and liabilities, clarifying whether they will be considered joint or separate obligations.
  • Protection from future debts: Establish provisions to protect each partner from assuming responsibility for the other's future debts incurred during the relationship.


Make sure to come back for part 2 of my Cupid’s Contract blog to learn about how cohabitation agreements can be used to address issues regarding present or future children, and avoid legal battles.


Drafting of Cohabitation Agreements

When cupid’s arrow strikes you and you’re considering moving in with your love, be sure to consider a cohabitation agreement. While cohabitation agreements are not legally required in New Jersey, they offer valuable protection and peace of mind for unmarried couples. To ensure the effectiveness of the agreement, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified family law attorney who can customize the document to fit your specific needs and circumstances. Do not hesitate to contact me directly at or at 732-545-4717 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation.