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Is Cohabitation Legal in North Carolina?

Once upon a time, cohabitation was a rare and taboo topic. Many people discussed it in hushed tones. Furthermore, cohabitants were looked at with scorn by others. This was the era of religious and moral piety. However, things have changed, and Charlotte family law lawyers now encounter several unmarried cohabitants. Such cohabitation thus raises several questions.

For example, Charlotte cohabitants want to know whether they’re breaking any laws. In addition, several others want to know the legal implications of cohabitation. Suppose you have any of such questions. Then, it’ll be best to hire a Charlotte family law attorney. An excellent attorney can provide legal advice on cohabitation issues in North Carolina.

What Is Cohabitation?

Cohabitation is an easy term to define. It refers to when unmarried adults live together continuously and habitually. Furthermore, this could be a private homosexual or heterosexual relationship. Both cohabitants usually wouldn’t have solemnized this relationship. Notably, the assumption of marital duties, rights, and responsibilities is proof of cohabitation.

That is, both parties perform functions and activities peculiar to married couples. These can include sharing financial responsibilities. Another one is jointly purchasing a property. Notably, cohabitants don’t have to engage in sexual relations. Instead, continuously living together as romantic partners can suffice.

Is Cohabitation Lawful in Charlotte?

No, cohabitation is against the law in Charlotte. Unfortunately, this is the legal position all through North Carolina. Although shocking, this is the legal reality in North Carolina and a few other American states. The law doesn’t just turn a blind eye to cohabitation. Instead, it criminalizes the practice. North Carolina General Statutes 14-184 contains this provision.

Under this law, unmarried men and women cannot “lewdly and lasciviously” associate, bed, and cohabit together. In addition, breaking this law is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Both parties can thus spend up to 60 days in jail. However, this law is rarely enforced.

Notably, either party’s confessions or admissions cannot be admissible as evidence against each other. This seemingly ridiculous law is traceable to 1805. Furthermore, it’s popularly known as the “Living in Sin” law. Then, it was enacted on religious and moral grounds. However, although enforceable, it has since lost its relevance.

Do Cohabiting Couples Have Marital Rights?

Absolutely not! Cohabitation doesn’t confer marital status on living partners in North Carolina. Therefore, they cannot have marital rights. The concept of common law marriages doesn’t apply in the state too. So, it’ll be best to ignore claims that cohabiting for seven years confers marital status. Indeed, cohabiting partners may not be prosecuted.

However, they cannot enjoy legal protection either. This means that the concept of marital property doesn’t apply to cohabiting couples in Charlotte. So, after a separation, both parties will leave with their properties. This means that you can leave with any property registered in your name. Until the law changes, it’s thus best for intending couples to get married. This way, they can enjoy the law’s full protection.

Does Cohabitation Affect Alimony Payments?

It’s not unusual for separated or divorced couples to have other partners. When they do, the status of this relationship often affects spousal support. Generally, the mere existence of a new romantic partner doesn’t extinguish the right to alimony. However, remarriage stops the dependent spouse’s right to alimony.

Similarly, alimony awards terminate once the dependent spouse cohabits with a romantic partner. Therefore, suppose you’re paying alimony to your former spouse. Once they start living with a new partner, you can apply to the court. Then, the court can terminate your alimony responsibilities.

Notably, romantic partners often sleep over at each other’s houses. This is often the case where they’re having sexual relations. However, occasional sleepovers and joint trips don’t equal cohabiting. Furthermore, they aren’t cohabiting if they both maintain their separate apartments.

Proving Cohabitation

Establishing that an ex-partner is cohabiting with someone can be challenging. However, it need not be so. All you need is the right pieces of evidence. These would include:

  • Witness testimony from the cohabitants neighbors
  • Photographic and video evidence of cohabitation
  • Evidence of frequent joint vacations
  • Proof of joint bank accounts
  • Evidence of a marriage-type relationship
  • Evidence of  a joint mailing address

Once you assemble these items, an excellent lawyer can prove your claim.

Charlotte Family Lawyers Can Answer Your Questions!

Are you currently cohabiting with your romantic partner? Do you have questions on the legal consequences of this arrangement? Then, you need to speak to the best Charlotte family law lawyers available. At Waple & Houk, PLLC, our attorneys have several years of experience in family law cases. Therefore, we’re well equipped to resolve all family law issues. You just have to call us for a confidential consultation today.