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Cohabiting couples should adopt a legal agreement

When a relationship goes south, striking a property settlement that sets well with both sides is arguably the most tedious and daunting task. That's why prenuptial agreements have long been touted as the ultimate remedy to post break-up headaches.

Despite the growing knowledge on the usefulness of such agreements in Louisiana, there are still some misconceptions. For instance, prenuptial agreements, or similar legal arrangements, are not just for married couples to protect them in the event of a divorce. More and more unmarried couples who are cohabiting have been enlisting the help of legal protection in order to have everything in place if the relationship eventually dissolves.

Just like any married couple, cohabiting couples seek the aid of qualified attorneys to draft up these plans that will address everything from a person's assets to child support obligations. With men and women choosing to either hold off on getting married or forgoing the process all together, the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has confirmed that there is a growing need for such legal agreements. The Pew Research Center stated that 51 percent of adults in the United States are choosing to get married, which is an all-time low.

Information collected by the AAML revealed that of divorce attorneys polled, 39 percent saw an increase in cohabitation agreements in the last five years. Some might attribute the rise to same-sex couples that must resort to these measures because they cannot legally get married in some states. That notion is debunked with the fact that 70 percent of those same divorce attorneys said they drafted up most of their agreements for heterosexual couples.

Just because a couple is not married does not mean that a break up cannot spill over into a family law courtroom. These couples still might buy a house and have children together. Many unmarried couples that have lived together will likely argue over things like child care following dissolution of the relationship.

Source: WCVB-TV Channel 5, "Prenups aren't just for married couples anymore," Jessica Dickler, March 20, 2012

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