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Cohabitation Agreements

In California we have this thing called a Marvin claim. The right is actually a claim in a partnership interest where the party, who does not own the business, house, etc, claims that they agreed to be partners with the other party and therefore they are entitled to a division of the partnership assets upon the division of the partnership.

The way it works out in practice is that if one party has a lot of money, they move their significant other into their house, and they live together for a bunch of years, and then break-up, the lower earning party can file an action asking for support or division of assets. This is most common in couples where one party is very wealthy and the other party does not work, but hosts dinner parties, maintains the property, does some work for the business, and otherwise supports the other party in being successful.

This situation is easy to avoid. The contact needs two parts:

  1. A statement that there is no partnership and the actions done by the lower earning party is done out of love and not as a service for which they expect compensation
  2. The agreement be conscionable. This means the person who is moving in with the higher earning party needs to either have a means of self-support or there needs to be some money set aside so they can leave if they want to. Because of the cost of housing in the bay area, I
    recommend $5k-$10k.

Putting this agreement in place is a great way to clear up any miscommunications about what the relationship is and is not. It is fair to both your partner and your future self that you be honest and clear about your expectations of the other person, your relationship, and your finances. It also can save you a huge bundle in legal fees on the other end.

The Process

Here is quick overview of how this works:

  1. We will do an intake where I can take down your initial information, respond to questions and concerns, and I can make recommendations on making the agreement enforceable.
  2. I draft the agreement and send it to both parties to review.
  3. One person discusses the agreement with their own attorney.
  4. After that review, we meet and sign .

This usually takes somewhere between five and ten hours of attorney time.

summerall law
Summerall Law, P.C. - Oakland Estate Planning Attorney
Located at 3873 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 8,
Oakland, CA 94611
Phone: (415) 944-9406
Local Phone: (415) 944-9406

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