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He Gave You a What?

By Nottage and Ward on June 30, 2018

The following is a fictional “what-if” scenario that many couples in Illinois may currently be dealing with.

It’s been almost a year and you couldn’t be happier with Mike. He’s charming, sweet, funny, has a good job, keeps a clean bathroom, actually gets along with your mom, and (let’s face it) he’s pretty easy on the eyes. You’ve sampled the dating pool and have come to the conclusion that Mike could be The One. All your friends agree that he’s definitely got The One material—even your mom thinks so!

At this point, it makes perfect sense to seriously consider your future with Mike. That “next step” immediately comes to mind: living together.

“Hmm. That could be a deal-breaker….What if he’s not ready? What the heck is he waiting for? Wait. Focus….I haven’t said anything about moving in together either. Surely he’s thought about it….How could he not?”

Just then, you get a text from Mike: “There’s something I want to run past you. Your place in a few?”

In your head, you panic. “Okay. Yes. He’s thinking about it. That has to be what this is. Just chill. Have a glass of wine. He’ll be over soon. I really hope he doesn’t plan on keeping that obnoxious Star Wars arcade game that shouts, ‘Red 5, I’m coming in!’ every ten seconds.”

As soon as you open the door, the first thing Mike says is, “I think we should live together.”

Yes! Your intuition is right! Oh my goodness, he is The One!

Mike continues, “But before we talk about it, I’d like you to give this a look.” He hands you a document that says COHABITATION AGREEMENT at the top.

Record scratch. Wha…?

Actually, Mike is doing you a favor.

Why a Cohabitation Agreement in Illinois Might Be a Good Idea

It’s important to recognize that Illinois does not guarantee rights to couples purely on the basis of living together, nor does Illinois acknowledge common-law marriage. And while people deciding to cohabitate usually aren’t thinking about separating, it’s wise to take a moment to consider what might happen in the event of a break-up. What would the legal ramifications be for:

  • Any property you owned before cohabitation, or acquired during cohabitation?
  • Any children you share?
  • Any shared bank accounts, rental leases, vehicle titles, credit cards, or debts?
  • Who should be appointed guardianship if a medical concern arises?

There are many things you should be thinking about that tend to go unseen during the initial romantic glow of moving in together. If you and your partner are deliberating taking this step, it’s a good idea to seek legal assistance. The team at Nottage and Ward, LLP, has over 25 years of experience in navigating family law in Illinois. Give us a call at (312) 332-2915 today and set up a consultation with an experienced and compassionate Chicago prenuptial agreement attorney.

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