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Wheaton family law attorneyMarriage is a dream for many people, but for others, it is something that is not necessary. While some people need a ceremony to show their love in front of friends and relatives, others prefer to simply live together and act as a married couple without undergoing the legal process. When a couple wishes to live together but not get married, it is sometimes known as a common-law marriage. While it does work for many couples, any couple that enters into this type of relationship must understand what their rights are, and how to protect them.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

Not every couple that lives together is considered to be in a common-law marriage. In most cases, people that want to be considered common law must:

  • Cohabitate for a certain period of time

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DuPage County cohabitation agreement attorneyFor generations, the majority of young men and women had the goal of meeting someone, getting married, and raising a family. However, statistics reveal that for many, that goal has changed a bit. Many people today are choosing not to get married, but this choice is not necessarily keeping them from trying to build a life with that “special someone.” But, what happens when a live-in romantic relationship starts to fall apart? A qualified family lawyer can help you come up with some ways to protect yourself.

Cohabitation Statistics in the U.S.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that among American adults between the ages of 18 and 44, a larger share (59 percent) have moved in with a romantic partner at some point in their lives than have been married (50 percent). More than a third of adults (35 percent) have been in both types of relationships.

There are several common reasons cited why people choose not to get married, with one of the major ones being financial. Many people want to be financially stable before walking down the aisle. This delay in marriage has led to a huge increase in the number of couples who choose to live together, also referred to as cohabiting. In the past 50 years, the number of couples who choose to share a home either before or instead of marriage has grown by 900 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 8 million couples cohabitate. Twenty years ago, that number was just under 3 million.

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Wheaton prenup attorney cohabitation agreement coronavirusOn March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is enough of a global threat to humanity that it can now be classified as a “pandemic.” As more and more events with large gatherings are getting canceled or postponed, couples planning to tie the knot may be concerned. Here is why weddings are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus and what you might want to consider doing about it, including postponing it and choosing to work on your prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement instead.

Why Weddings Are Dangerous Due to the Coronavirus

Although most people have aimed their attention on the cancellation of major events and other public gatherings, including festivals like South by Southwest and Coachella, and sporting events like the NCAA March Madness Tournament, not enough focus has been placed on weddings. Weddings are particularly dangerous when it comes to the coronavirus because:

  • Most weddings have large amounts of people crowded into relatively small places.

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DuPage County family law attorney for cohabitation agreementsCouples that choose to live together while remaining unmarried are becoming more and more common in today's society. While there are a wide variety of reasons why a couple may not want to establish a legal partnership through marriage, they may wish to create a legal agreement that will protect their rights. A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract between partners, and it can establish property rights and describe how certain matters should be handled if the couple decides to break up. In any relationship, it can be difficult to consider a future without the other partner, but protecting yourself and planning for your future through a cohabitation agreement could help avoid unnecessary stress.

How Can a Cohabitation Agreement Be Helpful?

While some states recognize common-law marriage, in which a couple is considered to be legally married if they live together for a certain number of years, Illinois does not provide unmarried couples with the rights afforded to married spouses. While a prenuptial agreement may be created to help couples entering into marriage protect their assets or address what should happen in the case of divorce, these agreements only apply to married spouses. For those reside together and do not wish to be married, a cohabitation agreement can offer similar protections.

 

As with a prenuptial agreement, discussing the topic of a cohabitation agreement can be an awkward conversation between a happy couple. However, making decisions about how to address property, financial situations, and other issues in the event of a breakup can help avoid disputes in the future.

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Wheaton cohabitation agreement attorneyA civil union is a legally recognized arrangement that may be used by a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, with rights similar to those of marriage. Couples may opt to be in a civil union temporarily until they get married, or for the rest of their lives. Illinois passed a law that officially recognized civil unions in 2011. Although not legally married, people in civil unions are entitled to many of the same benefits as married couples, which could include insurance coverage, survivorship, hospital visitation, and more. Civil unions were more common in the time period before gay marriage was legalized. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court removed all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all 50 states.

Rights to Benefits for a Civil Union Partner

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Ilinois, and it is often the best method for couples to receive the benefits that come with being in a committed relationship. However, some couples may not want to marry for various reasons. For example, if they were previously married and went through a bitter divorce, they may not wish to experience that again. Divorces can devastate family members emotionally and financially, especially if one spouse loses custody of a child or is forced to file for bankruptcy. A person may choose to remain unmarried in order to avoid repeating this situation.

Often referred to as “domestic partnerships,” civil unions are a type of relationship that grants limited rights to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who cohabitate but who are not married. Civil union partners are eligible for the same coverage options as a spouse, so they will be able to join their partner’s health, dental, and life insurance plans. The children of a civil union partner are also entitled to the same coverage.

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