In the state of Tennessee, unmarried couples who live together do not have the same legal protection as married couples when it comes to property rights. This can be particularly problematic in instances of separation or death, as assets may not be divided equitably or according to the wishes of the surviving partner. However, the good news is that unmarried couples may be able to mitigate these issues through a cohabitation agreement.
In this blog post, we will explore the legal requirements for a cohabitation agreement in Tennessee, who should consider getting one, and how these contracts can benefit a couple.
What are cohabitation agreements?
A cohabitation agreement, also known as a "palimony agreement" or a “living together agreement,” is a legal contract established between two people who live together but are not married. These agreements enable the partners to establish how their property will be divided in the event of a separation or death and can provide a measure of security and peace of mind.
Couples who are unmarried and share property, assets, or children are encouraged to consider a cohabitation agreement.
Legal Requirements for Cohabitation Agreements in Tennessee
A cohabitation agreement must meet certain legal requirements to be valid and enforceable. Generally, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties in the presence of witnesses. Each person must have an opportunity to read and understand the agreement before signing. It is also important to note that the agreement must not be against public policy, and both parties must freely and voluntarily sign without undue influence or coercion.
Are Oral Cohabitation Agreements Legally Valid?
In most cases, a cohabitation agreement must be in writing and signed by the parties involved. However, there are some situations in which courts have upheld oral agreements. That said, if you are in a situation where you believe you had an oral cohabitation agreement, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Oral agreements can be very difficult to defend in court, and the guidance of a legal professional can be invaluable. Your lawyer can help you assess your situation and guide you in identifying your rights under any existing, legally valid agreements.
Benefits of Cohabitation Agreements
The number one benefit of a cohabitation agreement is that it can help unmarried couples feel more secure in their relationship. As with all things in life, you can never truly predict the future, but you can prepare for the unexpected. With this in mind, a cohabitation agreement can help couples get on the same page regarding their relationship and how things will proceed should the relationship end.
Cohabitation agreements can provide a range of benefits for unmarried couples, including:
- Clarifying property ownership and division
- Establishing support obligations
- Defining financial responsibilities
- Outlining estate planning objectives
- Implementing dispute resolution mechanisms
What to Include in Your Cohabitation Agreement
When creating a cohabitation agreement, you can begin by considering your relationship's specific needs and goals. For example, do you plan on having children? Is marriage in your future plans? Do you already have children or dependents? Do you own property together?
These contracts should generally include property ownership and division provisions, support obligations, financial management, confidentiality and privacy, and dispute resolution. It is also wise to include provisions related to estate planning, including wills, trusts, and insurance coverage.
Considering Living Together? Consider a Cohabitation Agreement
Cohabitation agreements provide a way for unmarried couples in Tennessee to establish clear property rights and protect themselves in the event of separation or death. Even though these agreements are not required under Tennessee law, they can offer valuable legal protections and peace of mind in uncertain times.
If you are considering establishing a cohabitation agreement, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney. The legal team at Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC, is here to help. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and get started on your customized cohabitation agreement.