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Maryland family law matters: Cohabitation agreements a good idea

Unmarried couples in Maryland often find the prospect of dividing up their financial and personal assets after a breakup a difficult situation. Family law matters such as property division are often more straightforward for a married couple, since in the event that they can't work out issues between them, a family court judge will often step in to cast the deciding vote. However, couples who do not wish to marry can take steps to protect themselves in the event that a breakup does occur in the future.

First, it's important to discuss financial issues up front, before one of the romantic partners moves in with the other and preferably before beginning to commingle any assets. While it may not seem particularly romantic to discuss money matters now, the simple fact is that most relationships which end do so at least in part to disagreements over finances in some way, shape or form. Taking the steps to discuss this ahead of time may well save a lot of heartache later.

Secondly, unmarried couples who are considering moving their relationship to the next level, both emotionally and financially, may want to negotiate a cohabitation agreement. This type of document can set out standards for how the couple will divide items like houses, furniture, appliances and even personal possessions. It could also dictate how items like credit card debt and assets in bank accounts will be split up between a couple.

Statistics show that the amount of unmarried couples in Maryland and across the nation is growing at a rapid pace. Many are content to stay unmarried, but that means that they need to consider how family law matters will play out in the future without a marriage certificate dictating how assets will be split. It's not an impossible situation, but it may take some pre-planning now in order to protect both partners in a couple in the future.

Source:, "How To Divide Possessions After a Breakup," Casey Bond, April 26, 2013

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