Cohabitation agreements

What They Are

Cohabitation agreements are agreements whereby a couple set out the rules of their life together, regulating their relationship regarding property and some limited aspects of their personal relationship (e.g. the appointment of a support administrator [“amministratore di sostegno”]). Such agreements may also be used to regulate the consequences of the termination of cohabitation.

They can be entered into by any persons who, linked by an emotional bond, decide to live together permanently (so-called cohabitation). More precisely, they refer to the stable life companionship between two people bound by love who decide to live together outside of the marriage bond, either because the opportunity to marry is closed to them (for example, two partners of the same sex) or because it is their clear desire not to become involved in marriage.

The Role of the Notary

This is a contract that can be drafted by a notary who is engaged by the parties to achieve a result tailored to their own specific needs, when they want to start living together or the need arises to "plan for it", for example when purchasing a property or in the context of an inheritance. Obviously, these are not “standard” preprinted agreements; rather, it is necessary to go over together how the couple want to deal with the various aspects of their property, specifying in written form how the interests of the weaker party may be protected. 

Effects

It is possible to regulate the various aspects of property relating to: 

  • the manner of participation in common expenses, so defining the obligations of each party to contribute to joint expenditure or to domestic and non-domestic work activities;
  • the criteria for the attribution of ownership of assets acquired in the course of living together (the parties can even define a sort of regime of community or separation); 
  • the method of use of the house used as a common residence (whether owned by one of the partners, or both, or rented);
  • the procedures for the settlement of assets in the event of termination of cohabitation in order to avoid discussions, claims and counter-claims at the time of the break-up; 
  • the right of each to assist the other in all cases of physical or mental illness (or if the mental capacity of one party is in any case compromised), or to be appointed as support administrator (“amministratore di sostegno”). 

A cohabitation agreement gives rise to real legal obligations on the parties who have signed it. Therefore, the violation of any of the obligations accepted under the cohabitation contract entitles the other party to apply to the court for redress. The "natural" duration of the cohabitation agreement coincides with the duration of the partnership. It makes sense therefore to tie the effects of the contract to the duration of the partnership.Nevertheless, there are some clauses that are destined to produce their effects beginning precisely from the termination of cohabitation: think of all the agreements that establish procedures for the settlement of assets in the event of termination of cohabitation. If the contract also contains such agreements, even after the termination of cohabitation the contract will continue to apply in order to regulate the definition of asset ownership and the division of common property.

Clauses are admissible that are designed to regulate financial responsibilities relating to the maintenance, training and education of children, given that it is incumbent on both the parents to support, instruct and educate their offspring. Such clauses, however, would always be subject to revocation or change if deemed necessary in order to pursue the interests of the children (which are always to take precedence over the interests of the partners set out in the agreements between them).

Right of Withdrawal

The parties may reserve the right of withdrawal, with special clauses included in the cohabitation contract. The exercise of the right of withdrawal may, depending on what was agreed by the parties:

  • be without constraints or be subject to the occurrence of certain events or conditions;
  • be free of charge or be subject to the payment of a consideration to the other party (penalty).