How to Create a Domestic Partnership Agreement

By Nichole Hoskins

The number of couples who choose to forego marriage is growing. Whether a couple objects to marriage, or the rules of their state of residence prevent them from marrying legally, a couple may still want to establish themselves in a permanent but unmarried relationship. Before setting up a household together, many cohabiting couples choose to protect themselves and their property by creating a domestic partnership agreement.

The Domestic Partnership Contract

The domestic partnership agreement is a contract that serves much the same purpose as a prenuptial agreement. The domestic partnership agreement can be used to clarify the financial terms of a relationship, deal with issues of joint property ownership and set the expectations for shared household duties. Because a registered domestic partnership includes many of the same rights and responsibilities as a marriage, it is especially useful for couples looking to establish a permanent partnership and ensure that the couple and not the courts decide how their personal and financial affairs are handled.

Civil Unions and Domestic Partnership Agreements

Several states offer nonmarital designations that offer a variety of rights to unmarried couples that are similar to those enjoyed by married people. In some states, only unmarried same-sex couples can establish a civil union. In other states, any couple can register a domestic partnership. Either way, couples planning to enter into a registered domestic partnership or civil union are wise to to create a domestic partnership agreement before making it official. Having the agreement in place will protect the interests of each party.

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What to Include in a Domestic Partnership Agreement

Like prenuptial agreements, domestic partnership agreements are typically used by couples who wish to keep some or all of their financial assets and liabilities separate after the couple merges households. A good agreement is very specific, and it includes everything from checking accounts to real estate to business holdings -- and even personal effects, such as jewelry and furnishings. The agreement can define who is entitled to what property in the event the relationship ends or a partner dies. The agreement is also useful for discussing how household responsibilities like home maintenance and child care should be divided.

Drafting the Domestic Partnership Agreement

Before drafting the agreement, couples typically discuss what terms they want their specific agreement to include. You can use an attorney, or you can choose an online legal services provider to draft a domestic partner agreement without the expense of hiring an attorney, especially if you are both clearly in agreement about what you want the agreement to say.

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Details of a Partnership Agreement

Although state laws do not require partnership agreements, a partnership agreement can provide a solid legal foundation for your business venture. Even among family and friends, a partnership agreement can provide benefits in the form of clarifying rights, relationships, and responsibilities related to the business venture. Without a partnership agreement, unnecessary disputes will certainly arise as the business operates over time. Friends may turn into enemies over issues that were supposedly decided in a handshake agreement, but were never spelled out in writing. The details of a partnership agreement help avoid conflict by establishing all the important aspects of the business in a written document to which all partners agree.

How to Revoke a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement, sometimes referred to as a premarital or antenuptial agreement, is a contract entered into by two parties who intend to marry. The primary purpose of the agreement is to specify what property belongs to each party before marrying to avoid any later confusion as to whether the property in question is marital property. Prospective spouses may also agree to waive or limit either party’s right to spousal support. A premarital agreement may be revoked upon the agreement of the parties, and doing so is a fairly straightforward process when compared to creating the original agreement.

Partnership Profit-Sharing Agreements

When two or more people decide to start a business for a profit, the resulting agreement is called a partnership, governed by state law as well as individual contracts. Following the creation of the business, the execution of a profit-sharing agreement is an important step in properly allocating profits and losses between partners and determining individual tax liabilities. If prepared properly, this written document will represent the true intentions of the partners. It does not necessarily need to be based on ownership percentages.

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