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Seen At 11: ‘Cohabitation Agreements’ Becoming The Latest Protect-Yourself Trend

To Hear Those Who Have One Tell It, It's Every Bit As Important As A Prenup
Cohabitation contracts

More and more unmarried couples are opting for cohabitation contracts, a form of a prenuptial agreement. (Photo: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — No ring? No problem. You don’t need to be engaged or getting married to enjoy the benefits of a prenuptial agreement.

The latest trend is called a “commitment contract” and more and more unmarried couples are signing on the dotted line, CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois reported.

Madonna ($76 million), Paul McCartney ($35 million) and Michael Jordan (a whopping $168 million) each did not have a prenuptial agreement — and it ultimately cost each one of them big.

“Even though it may be unromantic, it’s important,” divorce financial advisor Jeff Landers said.

And it’s not just for the rich and famous, increasingly couples have been opting for prenups, but the latest trend is signing on the dotted line just to live together.

“Basically it’s saying these are the responsibilities that I am responsible for and these are the responsibilities that he’s going to have as living here,” Lee Love said.

It’s called a cohabitation agreement — or “cohab.” Love said she drew one up to protect her assets.

“He’s not just going to come here and hang around; he’s going to come and contribute,” Love said.

Love’s cohab stipulated everything from who buys the food each week to who pays the utilities.

“A cohab sets out the financial obligations during the period of the cohabitation and it also sets forth what the expectations are if the relationship doesn’t work out,” attorney Ann Carrozza said.

Carrozza said they’re definitely gaining in popularity.

“You have many people who are gun shy about getting married, but it’s very common for them to be dating and when those dates are over night, I am the first to suggest that they think about having an agreement like this,” Carrozza said.

“The toothbrush shows up and the clothes in the closet and the next thing you know, you’re living together,” Gregg Sullivan said.

Sullivan is currently in the process of drawing up a cohab, not only to protect himself should his relationship go sour but also to provide for his live-in girlfriend should something happen to him.

“Love is a nice fuzzy thing, but when you come down to real life it has some responsibilities that you need to address,” Sullivan said.

“I want to make sure she’s taken care of.”

Landers said it’s especially important in jurisdictions that don’t recognize same-sex marriage.

“It’s useful for both straight couples and gay couples,” Landers said. “In the eyes of the law, you’re two complete strangers.”

When Love’s love didn’t hold up his end of the contract, she said tossed him out.

“I came home one day and got a notice from the electric company that said I was past due,” she said. “I pulled out the agreement and showed him, I signed here, you signed here.”

For Sullivan, he said the agreement has actually strengthened his bond.

“She sees it as the next progressive step in the relationship,” Sullivan said.

If you want your agreement to hold up in court each party must use their own attorney to draw up their half of the cohab.

For more information on cohabs, please click on the following links:

Bedrock Divorce

Attorney Ann Carrozza

Would you engage in a contract like this or do you think it’s another example of a world gone mad? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …