Cohabitation agreements are contracts entered into by and between parties to a de facto relationship. A de facto relationship as defined under s 4AA of the Family Law Act and it refers to a relationship between two people of different or the same sex who are not married to each other and who are not members of the same family. The couple to a de facto relationship must be living together as a couple for the purpose of establishing a genuine domestic life together.
To make a cohabitation agreement a binding contract its terms must be reduced in writing and signed by the parties. Each of the parties must have their independent legal counsel who will render advice on the effects and implications of the proposed contract. Both the legal counsels of the parties must execute a certification that they had given legal advice to the parties and they must also furnish each other copies of the certification.
The parties to a de facto relationship may execute a cohabitation agreement prior to commencing a de facto relationship which will then govern the property relations within the relationship. These are equivalent to pre-nuptial agreements entered into between couple to a marriage. Their purpose is usually to isolate or quarantine certain properties the parties may bring into the marriage to preserve it for themselves or for their heirs. This is governed under s90UA of the FLA 1975.
An agreement during the existence of the relationship is governed by s90UB and it encompasses the property relations of the parties during the de facto relationship or in the event of its breakdown. It may also include provisions which isolate and exempt certain properties from settlement between the parties when they separate. If no financial agreements were executed before or during the relationship, in the event of separation, the parties may still enter into a financial agreement to govern the settlement of their properties. It may also include provisions which provide the amount and frequency of child support partner maintenance.
Agreements governing property relations are complicated legal matters which must be entered into by the parties after consultation and advice from a family lawyer. Protect yourself and consult with a family lawyer before entering a financial agreement with your partner.