There has been perhaps no more profound change in family law over the past several decades than the recognition, once unthinkable, now inviolable, that same-sex partners have a constitutional right to marry.
At Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby, we are deeply experienced in Pennsylvania family law. We represent the interests of families in matters ranging from divorce, to child custody, to family support, to adoption. However, we also recognize that what our clients consider to be “family” may differ from what the law characterizes.
We believe strongly in providing the highest possible benefit to our clients given the current legal landscape. Whether you are engaged in a committed relationship, or are now contemplating marriage, our lawyers can assist you in protecting your assets, your children and your loved ones, as well as your personal rights as an individual, through a cohabitation agreement, premarital agreement, or in litigation.
Allegheny County Cohabitation Agreement Attorneys
A cohabitation agreement works much like a prenuptial agreement. It is a contract between two people that confers certain benefits and responsibilities. While such a contract cannot limit a person’s basic rights — such as access to one’s child — it can define each person’s financial responsibilities and how certain assets will be handled during the relationship, or if it ends.
A cohabitation agreement, whether entered into by a same-sex couple or an unmarried heterosexual couple, can establish joint ownership of real estate, financial accounts, businesses, professional practices, investments and other assets during a relationship. It can also define what happens to those assets if the relationship terminates.
Estate Planning Tools To Benefit Loved Ones
Other rights normally conferred by marriage can also be achieved through agreements between unmarried parties. For instance, someone in a same-sex or unmarried heterosexual relationship may find that he or she has no rights to visit his or her significant other in the hospital, find out important medical information, or make medical decisions on that person’s behalf. However, by establishing a medical power of attorney in your name, your partner can confer these rights, so you are not shut out because you are not a blood relative or a legal spouse.
Likewise, by establishing financial powers of attorney and drafting wills, trusts and other estate planning documents, a person can confer legally binding inheritance rights to a loved one. As a result, you can be sure your assets go to whom you intend, not just to a parent or relative as designated by a probate court.
Our attorneys are experienced in drafting legally sound estate planning documents for both married and cohabitating clients.
What About Children? Adoption And Assisted Reproduction
For unmarried heterosexual couples who have children, the law is clear. Biological parents (and legal guardians) have rights to pursue child custody and visitation arrangements, which they can agree to or have decided for them by a court. A cohabitation agreement can be drafted to accommodate parental responsibilities and access, both during the relationship and if it dissolves.
For married same sex couples, the situation has been rendered clearer by the Whitewood decision, but questions remain in cases of unmarried couples, adoption or assisted reproduction.
Our law office is committed to assisting both heterosexual and same sex couples in pursuing and protecting their parental rights and opportunities.
Let Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby Protect Your Rights, Your Loved Ones’ Futures
To discuss your options for establishing a cohabitation agreement, power of attorney, estate plan, or parenting arrangement in a respectful and supportive environment, contact the Pittsburgh domestic partnership attorneys at Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby. You may reach us online or by calling 412-261-4040.