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More unmarried couples seeing benefits of prenuptial agreements

seeing a noticeable increase in the use of prenuptial agreements by unmarried couples. Nearly 40 percent of surveyed attorneys said they noticed a rise in prenuptial usage by cohabitating couples, indicating Americans' changing lifestyles as well as new economic realities.

In Texas, couples who aren't married but who live together can create an enforceable agreement that functions as a prenuptial agreement would in marriage. These documents must exist in writing and be signed by both parties.

Couples who utilize these in Texas may be either heterosexual or same-sex partners. However, in the AAML survey, 70 percent of the lawyers surveyed said that most of their contracts involved heterosexual couples.

A cohabitation agreement is becoming a more popular choice as many couples either delay marriage or bypass it altogether. The documents allow for protection of assets in a situation where, traditionally, legal protection has been lacking.

Questions such as who will gain custody of the cat or dog, or who will change residences if a split occurs, can be answered calmly before a breakup, instead of responded to emotionally afterwards. Cohabitation agreements can also help a couple decide how shared expenses will be divided during and after a relationship.

Other timely factors affecting the growing use of these contracts are consumer debt, student loan debt, and other financial baggage. With young men and women already carrying a heavy financial load, the desire to protect themselves from additional burdens is strong.

Also like prenuptial agreements, these arrangements can also be used to address issues surrounding child custody and child support. Texas, as well other states where cohabitation agreements are enforceable, requires the presence of an attorney when finalizing these important guidelines.

Source: CNN, "Prenups aren't just for married couples anymore," Jessica Dickler, March 20, 2012

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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