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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Cohabitation Agreements for Unmarried Couples in Virginia


When a married couple ends their relationship, there are legal rights both parties have in regard to separating finances and assets. The law in Virginia follows the theory of equitable distribution, which means each spouse will have a fair share of the assets and property. However, what happens if you are not married and have assets and finances that you’ve accumulated during your relationship?

Unfortunately, Virginia law offers no real protection similar to what married couples receive, even if you were living together for years and commingling accounts. This could have very negative consequences for couples who have opted not to marry.

So, what does an unmarried couple do to protect themselves in the event of a divorce? You want a cohabitation agreement. To protect your rights and assets, you want to speak with an attorney who has experience drafting Virginia cohabitation agreements. 

Why Cohabitation Agreements are Important              

When you’re younger and have little to no assets, a cohabitation agreement may not seem important. If you split up now, there would be no need to divide assets and shared property. However, once you get older and start to make more expensive purchases and your separate savings accounts become one, a split could be financially devastating.

Another example is where you have a couple who has a child together. Once the child is born, one party decides to quit their job to take care of the child. 10 years later your partner opts to end the relationship. If you were married, the laws in Virginia would provide for financial assistance through spousal support, but those laws don’t apply to unmarried couples.

Cohabitation agreements can also help you save money by eliminating the need for long, drawn out legal battles. Because you aren’t protected by local laws, you will have to find other avenues to sue, and some civil actions can get tied up in the courts for years.

What Cohabitation Agreements Cover

Cohabitation agreements can address a variety of important topics. Some of these include:

  • What happens to your home upon separation;
  • How do you want to divide shared assets in the event of a separation;
  • How will debts be handled and divided during a separation;
  • How retirement accounts are divided during a separation;
  • What property will be shared and what will remain as individual property and remain the sole possession of one person;
  • Who will handle specific payments like vehicle payments or a mortgage; and
  • Will there be any payments, like the equivalent of alimony, to be made.

Hiring a Virginia Cohabitation Attorney

If you are currently cohabitating, or planning to take that next step, please speak with a Virginia family law attorney. This will help you consider the potential financial implications of cohabitation. If you already have an asset portfolio, you may want to consider a cohabitation agreement now. The experienced attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC can help you decide whether a cohabitation agreement is right for you. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!