Family Law

Domestic Partners Can Secure Relationship Rights in Contract Law

Utah is not a state that recognizes the rights of couples, whether same-sex or heterosexual, who are committed to each other but do not marry (unless they are heterosexual and “hold themselves out to the community as a married couple”). Couples that choose to live together outside the marital relationship (or same-sex couples who cannot marry) have very few remedies if their partner becomes severely ill, dies, or they dissolve the relationship.

Cohabitating couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, are a growing segment of the population in the United States as a whole, and attitudes of Utahns are quickly evolving regarding this issue. With a growing number of Utahns who cohabitate with their romantic partners, and the current lack of laws available to secure the property, decision-making and inheritance rights of cohabitating partners, Utahns must take an active role in securing these rights for themselves. Which is why it is highly advisable to cohabitating couples to enter some sort of domestic partnership agreement that will provide for equitable distribution of property, assets and debt. Additionally, they should engage in some sort of planning for serious illness, incapacity or death of either partner.

Although there are several resources available for cohabitating partners to prepare such agreements, it is highly advisable to consult an attorney to discuss situations that may be a bit more complex. For instance, when unmarried couples purchase homes together, there are special concerns that arise when the relationship ends by either death or mutual termination. These types of issues should be dealt with carefully in any cohabitation agreement.

If you and your romantic partner are considering cohabitation, seek the advice of a qualified attorney.

Additional resources:

Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, by Toni Ihara, Ralph Warner, and Frederick Hertz (2006).

A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, by Hayden Curry, Denis Clifford, and Robin Leonard (2007).

Shacking Up: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living in Sin Without Getting Burned, by Stacy Whitman and Wynne Whitman (2003).