The Legal Implications of Cohabitating Out of Marriage

Dear Bintel Brief

I know plenty of couples who have, for various reasons, chosen to partner instead of marry. These couples love each other, spend holidays with each other’s families, own property and pets together and some even procreate —  all without the legal contract. Some couples claim their reasons for doing this are financial, or that prefer not to be bound by an institution, while others value marriage equality so greatly that they wouldn’t think to marry until gay couples across the country can legally do so, too.

The recent split of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins after more than 20 years together got me thinking: What are the legal ramifications of a non-marriage partnership ending? Are some of the couples I know perhaps destined to face troubles in court if their co-existing, non-state sanctioned relationships ever fizzle? Or, are these couples avoiding potential future legal issues by not walking down the aisle?


Amy Feldman and Robin Epstein are the authors of the new book “So Sue Me Jackass! Avoiding Legal Pitfalls That Can Come Back to Bite You at Work, at Home, and at Play” (Plume).

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The Legal Implications of Cohabitating Out of Marriage

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