Many couples decide not to marry, preferring to cohabitate long-term. If you are in this situation, an understanding of Texas cohabitation laws may save some financial and emotional turmoil if you and your partner later part ways.
Rights of Unmarried Couples
Under Texas law, unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples. For married couples, most property acquired during a marriage is considered equally owned by both parties, regardless of who purchased it or whose name is on the title. This does not apply to unmarried couples.
You may have been making or helping make payments on a car note or mortgage only to find that, after a breakup, you have no legal ownership rights in either. To establish rights similar to those enjoyed by married couples, unmarried persons can enter into a cohabitation agreement.
There is a mistaken assumption that if a couple lives together long enough, their relationship will be considered a common law marriage.
Although Texas does recognize common law marriage, you have to prove a common law marriage, including: (1) an agreement to be married; (2) an agreement to live together as husband and wife or partners; and (3) that you represented yourselves as married to others. Depending on the circumstances, this can be difficult to prove.
The solution to avoid these issues in the event of a break-up is to enter into a cohabitation agreement.
What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A cohabitation agreement is an agreement between two parties in a long-term relationship who live together. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement in that it can provide for how assets, income, and debt will be divided in the event the relationship ends. It can also provide for who has to move out of the shared residence and under what terms. In addition, cohabitation agreements can give your partner the authority, in the event of an emergency, to act or make healthcare and other decisions on your behalf.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself if you are cohabitating with your partner. At Laguna Law, we understand that your situation is unique and will tailor a solution that best protects you.