An organization called the National Marriage Project published their annual report recently with some startling but predictable results (The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, 2005). Between 1960 to 2004 the number of unmarried cohabitation couples in the US has increased tenfold, and the rate of marriages per 1000 population has declined sharply. Despite being one of the most religious western nations in the world, Americans have opted out of marriage and are increasingly living together instead. But a breakup of a non-marital relationship is at least as likely as divorce, and therefore couples ought to consider drafting a co-habitation agreement before they move in together. A Seattle family law attorney with experience in this area can help you decide if a co-habitation agreement is right for you, and if so, what it should cover. A co-habitation agreement is like a prenuptial agreement except that the parties do not get married. Instead, they can find out whether they are compatible with each other in the long run by living by the terms of the agreement. These agreements can cover financial and property issues in the event of a breakup. There are fewer stigmas attached to a co-habitation agreement than there are to a pre-nuptial agreement simply because the parties are not planning a "failed marriage", as is often perceived with pre-nups. Planning an unmarried trial run can be helpful because most couples are inclined to discuss issues that may be a later problem up front. In other words, although it sounds pessimistic, co-habitation and prenuptial agreements can get the parties talking about tough issues before marriage in order to avoid costly litigation later. However, before you decide on such an arrangement, it is very important to find the right Seattle Family Law attorney to help you in the process. The importance of a lawyer is not just to help determine the issues that can come up in later disputes, but also to draft an agreement that will be enforced by a court in the future. At the law firm of McKinley Irvin, our Seattle Family Law attorneys are among the best to handle co-habitation agreements. Our Seattle Family Law attorneys can inform you how you on the strengths, weaknesses, cost, and advantages under Seattle family law of a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, or co-habitation agreement. When thinking of the many important aspects of marriage, economic factors should never be overlooked. The McKinley Irvin Seattle Family Law attorneys can help you avoid expensive and confrontational litigation in the future by drafting solid agreements before you cohabitate. Like other states, Washington State and Seattle Family Law considers various factors before enforcing cohabitation agreements. These factors include: the free consent of both parties to agreement, full disclosure of parties' assets, and the opportunity of both parties to seek legal counsel. However, since the factors are not simple to apply to a given case, a competent Seattle Family Law lawyer should explain them to you. Our Seattle Family Law attorneys have drafted many cohabitation agreements for couples open to such communication before living together or getting married. It is very important for both parties to know each other's financial expectations before getting into a committed relationship. At McKinley Irvin, our Seattle Family Law attorneys are highly experienced with the nuances of Seattle Family Law and general contract Law, and thus, are in a unique position to represent clients. People, who have substantial assets and want to be free from future litigation of any sort, can greatly benefit from the advice of our Seattle Family Law attorneys.
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