The Importance of a Cohabitation Agreement

The Importance of a Cohabitation Agreement

In South Africa, couples living together, whether heterosexual or same sex, do not enjoy the same protection of couples that are legally married, irrespective of how long they have cohabitated. This is why having a cohabitation agreement is so important.

A cohabitation agreement is a legal document for cohabiting couples who want to protect themselves from unnecessary costs and litigation, should their cohabitation break down. They can clearly regulate their property rights and what arrangements might be made for mutual financial support, dealing with debt, caring for children, etc.

If you are planning on moving in with your partner, you should consider drafting a cohabitation agreement to protect your interests and avoid misunderstandings down the road. Here are a few important points to consider:

  • Financial matters: Who will pay for what expenses? How will you divide assets and debts?
  • Property rights: Will you both have an equal claim to the property you share, or will you each be entitled to claim for improvements you make to the property?
  • Relationship expectations: Discuss what you both expect from each other and how you will handle any potential conflicts or changes in the relationship.
  • Termination clause: Decide how you will handle the end of your cohabitation, whether it’s through a breakup, one of you moving out, or something else.

The agreement, much like an antenuptial contract, allows the individuals concerned to determine in advance who will keep specific assets and what will happen to assets that have been purchased jointly if they separate. This agreement is intended to bind both parties.

Remember, a cohabitation agreement is an important legal document that should be drafted with the help of a legal professional in order to protect yourself and your partner by planning ahead.