As a family law attorney, I spend a good deal of my day helping others to plan for upcoming marriages or helping them to end existing marriages. Within the last few months, however, I have met with a number of individuals contemplating, or already involved in, another type of relationship: a non-marital cohabitation relationship. These potential clients have made the decision to live with another adult, but have declined, for various reasons, or have been legally unable, to marry. Still, they come for advice as to how to best protect their interests as they enter into and exit their cohabitation relationships.
While marriage is a legally-recognized status here in Virginia, non-marital cohabitation, with very, very few exceptions (which I’ll talk about in later posts), is not. Nevertheless, there are things that an adult who is contemplating cohabitation, or is already cohabitating, with his or her partner can do to protect his or her interests (and some limited legal protections he or she may enjoy). Over the course of the next few posts, I will talk about some of these concepts.