Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

What is a Cohabitation Agreement and Do I Need One?

So, you’ve found the person you believe to be the great love of your life, and your partner feels the same way. Now, the two of you are ready to take the next step in your relationship and move in together. You may have heard of cohabitation agreements but may not fully understand them. Here’s what you need to know to decide if this type of contract is right for you.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

Basically, a cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenup but for unmarried couples who live together. It serves to protect you in the event you and your partner split up in the future. Arizona is not a common law state, so common law marriages are not recognized and unmarried couples have no community property rights to each other’s property or finances after a split. With a cohabitation agreement, you and your partner can outline how your money and other property will be divided in the event of a breakup.


If you are the primary breadwinner of the couple, you want to ensure that you maintain your wealth. If you don’t work and rely on your partner, you want to ensure you will still be taken care of financially, at least for a little while after the breakup.

It can be difficult to discuss financial topics with your partner, but doing so shows you are mature and responsible. While it may seem like planning for a split would hurt your relationship, it can actually bring you closer together.

Once the cohabitation agreement is in place, you can have confidence that you are staying in the relationship for the right reasons. You won’t be worried you are trapped because you need the money.


If your relationship isn’t strong enough to have serious financial discussions, it could push your relationship to its breaking point. This is especially true if you and your partner don’t see eye to eye in terms of finances. If you’re a big spender and your partner is thrifty, you may have difficulty compromising.

A cohabitation agreement may also make you more likely to break up, rather than working to resolve any issues. Having protections in place can make you feel like you have an easy way out. When times get tough in your relationship, you may be more inclined to split in order to prevent future arguments.

Evaluating Your Options

There is no right answer to whether or not you should sign a cohabitation agreement before moving in together. This is something that you and your partner will have to decide for yourselves. Although you don’t want to think about the possibility of breaking up right now, when you are happy together, you need to plan for your future.

Ask yourselves if one of you would be worse off if you broke up. The best time to have this discussion is when you are in a good place in your relationship. This way, there won’t be any vindictive or selfish tendencies. You’ll be working together to find the best solution for everyone.

Take the time to really think about what matters most to you. Even if you and your partner decide not to create a formal cohabitation agreement, you’ll both learn a lot about each other in the process.

Protect Yourself Today

If you do decide that a cohabitation agreement makes sense for you, you’ll need the assistance of an experienced attorney to draw up the paperwork. This will ensure that all details are covered, protecting both parties.

Here at Ogborne Law, we focus on family law, so we have a lot of experience with cohabitation agreements. We can assist in creating a cohabitation agreement that meets your needs. We understand this can be a delicate situation, so we’ll approach your case with compassion and discretion. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.