When Louisiana residents are married to one another, the relationship has a legal meaning-the couple has certain rights and duties in relation to one another, both during the marriage and during a divorce. But these days, not all couples are rushing to get married-they want to live together for some time before tying the knot. This could be because they want to assess their long-term viability or simply to reduce rent payments, but unfortunately domestic partners don't always get the same rights as couples do post breakup.
One way domestic partners can try to provide rights to one another similar to those that married couples enjoy is to enter into a living together contract or a cohabitation agreement. Courts generally recognize and enforce these agreements, requiring that they be written and signed by both parties. Couples can include provisions on the division of property in case of death or breakup, financial support during the relationship and after it ends, division of debts and even on child custody, support and visitation.
However, the court can alter child custody awards on the basis of the best interests of the children.
A cohabitation agreement and a prenuptial agreement are related to one another in that before the couple gets married the document is called a cohab agreement and it is no longer valid if the couple gets married. However, before they get married they can enter into a prenuptial agreement, covering the same ground. However, the requirements for a prenuptial agreement are a little different-if one party does not give the other sufficient time to review it, the prenup can be considered unenforceable, whereas the legal requirements to enter into a cohabitation agreement are the same as any contract.
Whether a couple is living together as man and wife or unmarried in a long-term committed relationship, there are certain family law issues that can arise if the couple breaks up. Protecting one's financial interests is important and there can be different tools available to do so.