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COHABITATION & NON-MARITAL PARENTING

When couples chose to live together without marrying, they might wish to make cohabitation agreements (written or verbal).  A cohabitation agreement  can address the day-to-day terms of their living together, or how they will handle property issues during their cohabitation and afterwards if their cohabitation ends.  A couple can use a family mediator as a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion and help them come to decisions.

If non-married parties have children (whether or not they are living together), parenting, and support of the children can raise important issues.  An experienced family mediator can help these people come to decisions about the practical considerations of raising children out-of-wedlock without resort to litigation.

Couples choosing to live together without marriage do so for all sorts of reasons. While some of these couples eventually marry, some do not. Although Massachusetts does not have; palimony; laws, break ups between cohabiting couples can be very messy, leading to protracted and complex litigation.

Cohabiting couples may choose to make written cohabitation agreements. These can address the day-to-day duties of living together. In addition, In addition, a cohabitation agreement can determine what happens if they break up.

If a cohabiting couple marries, the cohabitation agreement may no longer be valid or enforceable, and a prenuptial agreement will be necessary if they wish to vary the terms of Massachusetts laws pertaining to marriage.  A family mediator is in an excellent position to help the couple formulate a cohabitation agreement, and in the case of later marriage, a prenuptial agreement, if that is what the couple wants.

PATERNITY ISSUES

A couple may wish to formalize their agreements relating to the child born of their relationship with a Parenting and Support Agreement, which can be filed with the court.  A family mediator can be an excellent neutral facilitator of the discussion between the two parents, and can help them formulate an agreement that well serves their child and reduces future conflict.

CHILD SUPPORT FOR UNMARRIED PARENTS

An adjudicated father will be responsible for child support, just as a married father is. In determining child support for unmarried parents, the New York Child Support Guidelines apply. In fact, the Guidelines apply equally to determine child support for unmarried couples as they do for married parents. A family mediator can help an unmarried couple come to terms on the child support obligation that best serves them.

CHILD VISITATION ISSUES

Child custody for unmarried parents is an important issue. Unmarried fathers (except in extreme situations) have the right to maintain a relationship with their children through visitation. While the presumption is that the mother has custody when the child is not born of a marriage, the parties can themselves agree to joint custody. If not joint custody, the parties can agree to a visitation schedule and parenting arrangement that best serves their and the child’s needs and values. Having this conversation on unmarried couples child custody facilitated by a trained family mediator is a great step in maintaining good will and open communication between the parents, which will have great benefit to the child.