I’ve blogged before about different elements of pre-nups and how to approach making one with your significant other. However, the focus of pre-nups is usually about opening up communication channels and building a foundation for a healthy marriage. I recently read an article in the New York Times which focused on “no-nups” – agreements that couples enter into without an upcoming wedding. The no-nup is essentially a cohabitation agreement which is a legal agreement made by two people choosing to live together. As fewer couples look to walk down the aisle, cohabitation is becoming more commonplace. Although a no-nup may be formed for a couple with no intent to marry, the underlying principle remains the same – for each party to know “where they stand” and to be protected no matter what the relationship may bring.
Who are the couples looking to pursue a nu-nuptial agreement? Couples look into the agreement for many different reasons. In the past, some same-sex couples executed no-nup agreements because although they weren’t able to legally marry, they wanted to be able to protect themselves in the same way a pre- or post-nup would provide protection for married couples. Additionally, some individuals have gone through a divorce and would rather form an agreement sooner, regardless of their desire to get married again. Finally, for some couples marriage might never be in the picture. In that case, a no-nup can still provide a framework and “safety net” for the couple’s cohabitation.
The no-nup agreement will generally include provisions mainly regarding property and financial assets. The couple can choose to include the framework for providing one of the partners with financial security after a break-up as well. Although other provisions can be included to highlight each party’s roles and responsibilities in the relationship, this is not as common with no-nups. For many couples that choose to build a life together without marrying, they want to focus on the protections that marriage would afford them. For example, if one party is giving up a career in order to raise the couple’s child, the financial aspect of the no-nup will provide that partner with a valuable safety net in the event of a break-up.
Similar to pre- and post-nuptial agreements, there is somewhat of a divide in terms of public opinion. Those opposed to the no-nuptial agreement argue that it turns the relationship into more of a business deal and could essentially cause the couple to break-up because of having to deal with certain issues. For example, if one partner’s finances are in a poor position as compared to the other partner, it could ignite arguments when trying to reach any type of agreement.
However, if a no-nup can be approached in the right way, it could potentially bring a couple closer together. The agreement itself will tend to touch upon issues that may arise in the future for the couple, but having open lines of communication can allow the couple to navigate through the issues together. Additionally, the process of creating an agreement (or even discussing the possibility of creating an agreement) can allow the parties to discuss and appreciate sacrifices that the other party may be making for the relationship. Just like with pre- and post-nups, your attorney can help you decide whether it may be the right decision for you, and the best ways to go through the process.
When a couple chooses to move in together and build a life with one another, there are a lot of things to consider and a lot of emotions to handle. While there is nothing too glamorous about drafting a no-nuptial agreement, it could potentially bring a couple closer together and build a strong foundation for the future.