If You’re a Michigan Couple Living Together but Not Married, You Need a Cohabitation Agreement
Are you part of a couple – living together but not legally married?
You think you've been together long enough so your partnership will be considered a legal “Common Law Marriage”?
Common law marriages are not recognized in Michigan.
According to the Michigan Penal Code, “any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together… is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.” Antiquated, yes, and there have been attempts to get rid of that statute. A couple of legislative proposals are calling it “the silliest Michigan law ever”.
Yeah, it sounds old-fashioned, and it is...it is a statute from 1931 and it is still legal. Even so, it doesn't seem to be enforced, and there are more and more millennial couples living together, in an unmarried situation.
These days, Michigan recognizes some contractual cohabitation agreements...but it's up to you to make them. Living together you have your stuff, they have theirs. All the 'stuff' that you want to be sure to keep in the course of a breakup needs to be mentioned on paper...even the stuff you bought together has to be split up and agreed upon. Almost sounds like a pre-nup after the fact...
According to Kreisenderle.com, “couples are best advised to consult an attorney to discuss and prepare a cohabitation agreement, and it is highly recommended that each party consult his or her own.....state courts do recognize the validity of cohabitation agreements.”
Cohabitation is not the same as Common Law Marriage. According to NCSL.org, “A common law marriage is a legally recognized marriage between two people who have not purchased a marriage license or had their marriage solemnized by a ceremony.” Michigan does not recognize common law marriages, but they do recognize cohabitation agreements.
So if you are a couple “living as a romantic twosome,” protect yourselves and get the cohabitation agreement.
Michigan Couples: Living Together or Married?