Below I have a sample of what I “no-nuptial” also known as a “cohabitation agreement” might look like. Keep in mind that this is a consequential legal document that will affect the rights of the parties concerned. One or more of the individuals who might be getting into this type of arrangement should at least consider consulting with an attorney.
There are several different ways that a document like this might be designed. For example, this particular version does not include any support provisions (many people would not want them). It also does not include anything similar to “community property.” Basically, a couple can combine their property if they wish or not. The way this is envisioned is that property will be held in individual trusts by both spousal equivalents. Both would name each other as beneficiaries of their estate plan.
Opportunities for customization might include the following:
- What constitutes a breakup.
- How property is going to be owned during the course of the relationship.
- Responsibilities of the parties could be as granular as you want it to be. Certain things are not enforceable though.
A “no-nuptial Agreement” does not actually have all of the same legal consequences as a marriage under state law. However, this could be both good or bad (usually mostly good). This does nothing for child custody or support. Unfortunately there is not much we can do to avoid these protracted conflicts beyond making sure you only have children with someone who has good character. It does not matter if you have a state sanctioned marriage or not, the child custody and support system are essentially the same.
Automatically assuming that “marriage” is the best or most convenient option may actually be damaging for communities and families. My goal in providing information on “no-nuptial’ agreements is to at least start a conversation on alternatives to state sanctioned marriage.
To notarize the document, California has a forms for doing that here. Remember, while I am a lawyer, I am not I am not your lawyer without an agreement.