The ABA Law Trends & News, Practice Area Newsletter, Fall 2010, Vol 7, No. 1 has re-published an article that I wrote for the ABA Family Law Journal, Winter 2009. This article, The Law and Living Together, states:
A cohabitation agreement is essential protection for unmarried couples
Many couples in the United States cohabit without the benefit of marriage. As a direct result, in the event of illness, death, or dissolution of the relationship, cohabitants are deprived of many of the rights and financial safeguards accorded to legally wed spouses.
Consequently, unmarried partners who have not been protected by a written agreement that specifically spells out property and support rights upon death or separation from a partner face grave risk of financial harm.
Since the early 1970s, some states have protected rights arising from the relationships of cohabitating adults through various legal theories, such as implied contract, express contract, unjust enrichment, equitable estoppel, joint venture, constructive trust, and/or equitable partnership. The few states that have legalized same-sex marriage or civil unions also provide some protection to couples. However, many states have refused to grant such relief to people living in what, in some jurisdictions, is called a “meretricious relationship.”