Rhode Island Domestic Partnership and Cohabitation Agreements

A Rhode Island domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement can make thing easier when a relationship ends by predefining a fair property settlement agreement and defining how child custody and visitation will be handled.

Providence family lawyer Stephen Linder helps couples establish the legal foundation for the joint ownership of property and responsibility for assets and debt. To schedule a consultation with Mr. Linder, call (401) 521-6800 or contact our Providence law office online.

Domestic Partnerships Aren't Just for Same-Sex Couples

Since the change in Rhode Island family law to allow same-sex marriage, fewer people are creating domestic partnership (or cohabitation) agreements. And yet these types of agreements can be as valuable for opposite-sex couples as they were for same-sex couples.

  • Unmarried people who want to buy a house together will benefit from a written agreement that defines how payments will be made, who will be responsible for what payments, and how the house and mortgage will be handled if the couple is no longer together.

  • A couple may wish to establish a domestic partnership in order for one partner to qualify for health insurance under the other partner's workplace insurance plan.

  • Older couples who want to live together but want to avoid complications with Social Security, inheritances or alimony, may want to create a written cohabitation agreement stating clearly that their relationship is not a marriage in order to avoid having their relationship characterized as a common law marriage under Rhode Island family law.

Rhode Island Common Law Marriage

Rhode Island is a common law marriage state. If you hold yourself out to the community in a manner that leads reasonable people to believe you are married, the court may consider you married. This would give you have the same rights and obligations as people in a traditional marriage, including the need to legally divide property and establish fair child custody, visitation, and child support arrangements when the relationship ends.

When determining whether a relationship qualifies as a common law marriage, the Court looks at a number of different factors:

  • How do you file your taxes?

  • If you took a new job, did you say you were married?

  • How does your employer treat you when it comes to benefits?

De facto Parental Rights

Non-biological parents who have lived with a child for a long time may wish to assert a right to visitation, or even child custody, after their relationship with the biological parent ends. Such parents are called 'de facto parents' or 'psychological parents' because they have a significant bond with the child and have acted as a parent to the child.

Our law firm is familiar with this evolving area of the law. If you have been the de facto parent in a child's life, we may be able to help you bring your claim for continued contact with the child to court.

If you have questions regarding domestic partnership or cohabitation agreements, Please contact us today to discuss your specific needs and concerns.