Marriage vs. Cohabitation


The marriage may be not for everyone. Some couples may want to avoid the formalities that imply legal marriage. Others may want to keep separate their financial affairs and the liability of the debt. Whatever the reason, some couples choose to live together without the benefit of legal union. There are, however, legal differences in the way that marriage and cohabitation are treated. Below you will find explanations for several of these differences.

Cohabitation marriage (living together)

The requirements of marriage vary from state to state, include a license, a waiting period, blood tests, minimum ages, a ceremony officiated by a clergy member or by an officer of the court and witnesses.

Cohabitation can start at any time and may do so by people of any age and sex, without any requirements as to its form.

The marriage must be terminated through a legal divorce of a formal or of an annulment. It can be costly, long, complicated, and exhausting emotionally.

In many cases you can end so simple and informal with the agreement of both parties. However, often the emotional toll is the same, or at least similar, at the end of a marriage.

Couples in divorce have the obligation to divide their property through legal methods prescribed.

See also: Cohabitation and the Law: Lessons Learned

At the end of the cohabitation, usually the couple can divide the property as they want. However, when trying to determine who gets what, the absence of legal guidelines can create major conflicts.

The spouse who earns the larger wage can be required to provide livelihoods finance to the spouse in case of separation or divorce.

The couples who live together and then split usually do not have an obligation to provide sustenance to their partner after the break-up, unless they have made a contract where otherwise stated. While this could be seen as a relief for the spouse paying to the spouse used to be maintained by the other separation may represent an unexpected big blow to their finances.

If one of the spouses becomes ill or is declared incompetent, the other spouse usually has the right to take decisions on behalf of the patient in matters related to their health and their finances.

No matter how close they are or how long it has lasted, a co-habitant will need to wait for the family decisions on behalf of a spouse who is sick or was declared incompetent, unless the power of attorney, general or limited decisions on the health of the sick will grant the rights to the co-habitant to make decisions on your behalf.

When a spouse dies, the other spouse has the legal right to inherit part of the deceased’s assets.

When a co-habitant dies, their assets go into the hands of those who are mentioned in his testament or, if not any, of their families, in accordance with state laws. The co-habitant does not have the right to reclaim the goods, unless it is mentioned in the testament of the deceased.

Children born in wedlock are presumed to be the progeny of the husband and the wife.

When a cohabiting couple has children, the parents are not entitled to the legal presumption of paternity and may even need to establish his paternity through a blood test and legal action.

Children born by married couples should be held financially during the marriage.

In a cohabiting couple, a man can evade his legal obligation to immediately provide sustenance to the child during cohabitation; although he can also leave it voluntarily (and MUST do so if paternity is established).

After the separation or divorce, the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to provide livelihood finance to the children of the marriage.

After the cohabitation ends, the non-custodial parent has the same obligation to provide sustenance to the children that the parents are divorced or legally separated; as long as paternity has been established.

Marriage vs. Cohabitation: How to get the help of an attorney

If you are living with your partner and/or thinking of getting married, a lawyer specializing in family law can help you with a fair representation of the parties in the process. Your attorney will work to obtain the best possible result. The first step is to find a lawyer specializing in family law in your area.

Watch video Is Living Together Before Marriage Better?

It used to be widely believed that you should not live with your partner before you get married. Does living together awhile before marriage make you more likely to get a divorce? Anthony and Laci are here to give you the answer.

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