Over the past 50 years, the number of same sex domestic partnerships has increased dramatically. Unlike married couples who divorce, however, Missouri law does not protect the legal rights of cohabitating couples should the relationship come to an end. However, a formal cohabitation agreement can provide for rights for one partner in the event of a break up or in the event of death, as wells as protecting certain property, financial holdings and other parental rights in a the court of law. Also, since Missouri law does not automatically provide legal rights in the event of death during the partnership or relationship, these agreements, often in conjunction with estate planning documents, will provide legal rights and benefits.
At the law firm of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C., we provide legal counsel and representation for traditional and same-sex couples in and around St. Louis who wish to enter into a domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement. Our goal is to make sure both parties understand their rights and obligations with or without a signed contract, and to achieve the goals and objectives of our clients in protecting their income and property from possible claims should the relationship come to an end, and to establish certain rights for the other party in the event of death during the relationship.
We help clients address issues such as property divisions in the event of a separation and housing rights, including rent payments. While these agreements cannot establish parental custody rights and obligations, than can be used to express the couple’s intentions. If the couple has children together, a cohabitation agreement may also be used to protect parental custody and visitation rights. As in the case of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, both parties should have their own attorney to ensure that their rights are protected.
Because society does not yet bestow the rights and privileges of marriage on those who cohabit, these agreements can protect and benefit both partners and their respective families. They also help clarify the intent of the relationship, express clear guidelines regarding shared property and establish the goals of the relationship. Having a formal contract is also useful, should the couple move to a state that allows more legal rights for people who live together, particularly if such legal rights exceed the intention of the couple.