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What's a living together contract?

In the eyes of the Minnesota family law system, marriage is viewed exactly as a legal contract between two parties in which it is understood -- based on the terms of marriage under the law -- what both parties owe to one another. This, and the responsibilities that come with it, apply to the spouses as parents of shared children and as individuals who are part owners of shared assets and liabilities.

Interestingly, the marital contract is not the only type contract that people can define their relationships with. There also exist "living together" contracts and "nonmarital agreements."

These contracts are not that different from prenuptial agreements. They define how property, debts and money will be handled between the romantic partners. Although having a contract with your lover may appear unromantic, it is a very mature thing to do for any financially responsible spouse. In fact, some might say that creating a nonmarital agreement or living together contract with someone you love is one of the best ways to respect and honor yourself and your partner in your relationship.

When do you need one of these kinds of contracts? A lot of relationships are short term, even those that involve two people living together, so the decision to enter into a living together contract should not be taken lightly. However, if one or both of the partners in a relationship that involves shared living spaces is accumulating a great deal of money, property or debt, such an agreement could be appropriate to protect both partners' property rights. In addition, long-term couples who don't believe in marriage may also want a nonmarital contract to define obligations, relationship rights and the way property needs to be distributed.

Minnesota couples who want to enter a nonmarital or living together contract will want to speak with a family law lawyer. A lawyer can help them create a contract that fits both their personal needs and the nature of their union.

Source: FindLaw, "Nonmarital Agreement & Living Together Contracts," accessed Dec. 20, 2016

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