Living Together: Understanding Cohabitation Laws in North Carolina

Cohabitation, sometimes called “unmarried cohabitation,” while once quite rare, has become very common over the past several decades. Simply put, cohabitation is when two adults are living together continuously while maintaining a relationship that is similar to a marriage in many ways. This is not the same thing as a roommate.

For quite some time, cohabitating couples would live together for a while with the intent to eventually get married. While this is still the goal for many people, a growing number of them either spend years cohabitating prior to marriage, or never intend to marry at all. Whatever the implications this has on the relationship, it has a big impact on the legal aspects of this type of situation, especially should the couple break up.

No Legal Status

In the state of North Carolina, cohabitating couples have no legal status. This means that in most cases, even if a couple has been living together for an extended period of time, when they break up the assets won’t be divided as they would be in a divorce. Whoever has their name on the title of the house, for example, will be the one to keep the house. If both parties have their name on the title and the mortgage, they will both continue to be responsible for the payments until the one remaining in the home refinances. In this type of situation, if the couple can’t come to an agreement on who should keep the house, they may need to go to court.

Preparing for the Future

Anyone who is currently living with their partner, or thinking about taking this step, should think about what would happen if the relationship eventually ends. While this is not something most people want to consider, planning now can help to avoid a lot of heartache and financial problems in the future. Establishing a contractual agreement regarding the division of property and assets when the relationship is strong can help avoid any misunderstandings or other issues should that same relationship come to a conclusion. North Carolina courts have already handled many cases like this, and as long as the contract is not based on the exchange of sexual services, it will typically be upheld should it have to go to court.

Get Personalized Services

Every relationship is unique, and the specific approach to an unmarried cohabitation contract should be created to match your exact situation. We will write up a contract that will help protect both parties today, and with whatever the future may hold. Please contact us to discuss your options and get this important process started.

Written by N.C. Adoption Law Center

N.C. Adoption Law Center

We work hard to provide all our clients with the best and and most helpful legal services. Our attorneys specialize in adoption and other family law cases including divorce, child custody, child support, guardianship, and more.