Unable To Marry

I read an article today explaining how Jennifer and her boyfriend live together but can’t get married.  Why?  Not for the reasons you may think.  According to the Current Population Survey released in September, Minnesota – and the nation – saw a dramatic increase in unmarried couples who live together.  The data shows an increase nationally from 6.7 million unmarried couples living together in 2009 to 7.5 million couples in 2010.  Why are so many more couples living together but not getting married?

According to today’s article, it’s the economy’s fault as more couples are moving in together to avoid paying for two households despite wanting to remain unmarried.  While this certainly saves money, remaining unmarried may expose the couples to other negative consequences.  These potential consequences vary depending upon whether a couple breaks up or stays together.

The article then quoted? Sheela Kennedy, a University of Minnesota demographer who studies cohabitation?, as saying that most unmarried couples living together will split up or get married within two years and only 14 percent are unmarried and living together five years later.

Living together does not grant you any rights with regard to each other.  So, if you move in with your loved one but decide not to – or can’t – get married, please be sure you protect yourselves by having a cohabitation agreement.  A cohabitation agreement is an understanding between two unmarried persons who live together concerning everything that relates to their individual assets.  These agreements offer protection for each person in the event of a breakup and grant the couple some of the same protections and rights given to married couples.  In Minnesota, a valid cohabitation agreement must be written and signed by both parties and is enforceable regardless of the sex of the parties.

Even if you remain together, you are not out of legal hot water.  Under Minnesota law, your partner does not have the ability to speak on your behalf for medical decisions, act on your behalf for financial matters or assist in making decisions in the event of your incapacity or death.  So, be sure that ?while you are happily living in unmarried bliss you have an up-to-date estate plan.