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Should My Same-Sex Partner and I Sign a Cohabitation Agreement?

Posted on in Family Law

Milwaukee family law lawyer, property division, same-sex couples,  cohabitation agreement, domestic partnersWhile same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, many LGBT couples often choose to remain unmarried. In these cases, same-sex partners should be aware that they may not have the same rights as married couples.

In order to avoid disagreements and legal battles, same-sex couples may want to consider signing a cohabitation agreement that can address issues such as property division which may arise should their relationship end.

Rights of Unmarried Couples in Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not recognize common-law marriage, even for couples who have lived together for many years in a relationship that is identical to that of married partners. When unmarried same-sex couples break up, they will not be entitled to the community property rights that guarantee an equal division of marital property to married couples in Wisconsin. Moreover, they will not be eligible for spousal maintenance.

Same-sex couples in Wisconsin can avoid some of these issues by registering as Domestic Partners. While this will not give unmarried partners the same rights as married couples, domestic partners do have some key rights, including inheritance rights, visitation rights in hospitals or nursing facilities, and the ability to be included in a partner’s insurance coverage.

Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement

In order to address any issues that may arise over the course of their relationship, same-sex partners who wish to remain unmarried may want to consider signing a cohabitation agreement that will define how certain matters will be handled if their relationship ends. A cohabitation agreement can cover a wide variety of issues, including:

  • Division of assets and debts - Couples can specify whether one partner will retain sole ownership of certain property and whether one or both partners will be responsible for debts incurred during the relationship.
  • Support - A cohabitation agreement will not affect child support for the legal children of same-sex partners (including adopted children); the amount of child support is defined by Wisconsin statutes. However, couples can specify whether one partner will provide financial support for the other partner after a breakup.
  • Pets - Couples can agree on where pets will live after they break up and who will pay for the pets’ expenses.
  • Household expenses - A cohabitation agreement can define how each partner will contribute to expenses such as utilities, rent, and purchasing food and household items during their relationship. Outlining these responsibilities can help avoid disagreements over reimbursement and/or financial support in the case of a breakup. 

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, Family Law Attorney

If you are in a long-term same-sex relationship, a cohabitation agreement can ensure that your rights will be protected throughout your relationship and beyond. The attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can assist you in creating an agreement that meets your needs. Contact a Milwaukee family law lawyer today at 414-271-1440. 



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