This article is written by Hrishika Rawat of BBA LLB, Banasthali Vidyapith, Newai (Rajasthan). This article provides a brief overview of relationship contracts, as well as the benefits and consequences of using the basic structure of a relationship contract.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction

A relationship contract, or cohabitation agreement, is between a couple to establish rules for a relationship. This contract is sometimes required to establish a domestic partnership. A relationship contract will commonly include how to respect one another and how incomes and expenses are paid. A relationship contract, at times, also includes living arrangements of and for the couple, the personal needs of either of the parties to the contract, the termination (breakups, end dates, etc.), and how and where such a contract shall be executed.

A relationship contract is one of the best decisions a couple can make to ensure the security of their fortune and how it will be managed after they die. It is intended to guide couples through the process of managing their relationship both during and after it ends. An online relationship contract form will show you exactly what the conditions of such a contract are.

It is advised that every couple, whether legally married or not, have a relationship contract. There are written or unwritten agreements between spouses. It is sometimes referred to as a connection agreement. 

The legal meaning of a contract

A contract is a legally binding written or oral agreement between two or more people that includes at least a commitment by one party to do something for the other. A contract contains several crucial components, such as:

  • Legal enforceability,
  • An agreement, whether written or oral,
  • A relationship of exchange,
  • At minimum one term or promise.

One of the most important characteristics of a legal contract is that both parties join the partnership voluntarily and consensually. Two parties must be involved for the transaction to be considered a valid contract, but there are no legal restrictions on how many possible parties may participate in the transaction. When both parties reach an agreement on the conditions of a relationship based on their purpose to be bound and their own free will, the ensuing agreement is a legal contract.

The fact that both parties agree to the conditions is what differentiates a contractual duty from any other form of legal responsibility, such as paying taxes or compensating for carelessness. These legal responsibilities occur as a result of an event or conduct and are legally enforceable, but the persons involved do not have to agree to the conditions for the obligations to be enforced.

Relationship contract : an overview

It is a legal document produced and signed by a couple that describes the rights and duties that each party owes the other after accepting the conditions of the agreement and is a process of writing down unspoken norms. It is not legally binding. It is not a marital contract. 

This document is intended to guide couples through the process of managing their relationship both during and after it ends. Payment of several expenses, property, debt payments, individual expectations in a relationship, and many more needs are included. Its validity makes it legally enforceable if one party fails to adhere to or complete his or her responsibilities as specified by the contract’s stipulated terms and conditions. It will make you aware of your partner’s situation.

Nothing is assured, and ‘happily ever after’ only happens in fairy tales, according to the parties. Maintaining and flourishing love and relationships needs an intentional, constant effort. This contract is intended to be used in both serious and cute relationships.

Examples of terms to be included in a relationship contract

Some of the terms that can be included in a relationship contract are as follows : 

  • We pledge to never compromise our connection (in passing, during arguments, or with other people).
  • We commit to accepting responsibility for our emotional reactions, worries, concerns, and ourselves as a whole.
  • We promise to make time for ourselves as individuals regularly (whether alone, with friends, or on separate vacation).
  • We promise to keep a weekly date night free of distractions.
  • We commit to staying progress-oriented while being patient with ourselves and not expecting growth to come on any specific schedule.
  • We commit to doing our best to hold space for each other while realising that we are not responsible for solving the concerns of the other partner.
  • We pledge to make significant investments in our self-care to bring our best selves to our partnership.
  • We recognise that we do not make each other happy, but rather bring our particular overflowing happiness to the partnership to share.
  • We agree to do our absolute best to uphold all of the aforementioned intentions to the best of our ability, and we will be patient and loving with ourselves when we inevitably momentarily slip up.

Benefits of having a relationship contract

Having a relationship contract ensures that couples will get several benefits, such as honesty, understanding of their partner’s feelings, communication, clarity, and alignment in their aims, and arriving vs. sliding. Let’s have an in-depth view of each of the aforementioned points.

Honesty 

In a relationship, it is the act of being fair and truthful. There is no such thing as a healthy relationship that does not include honesty and transparency. If either party suffers from any deprivation, what exists is an illusion of a good relationship. It may provide a wonderful first impression from the exterior, but it is empty on the inside. This virtue aids in the prevention and management of disputes, frustrations, and unwarranted internalised resentments. This is a love test, thus if it is missing, the couple’s love is false love.

Communication

There is also a good systemic risk from having a relationship contract in the amount of honesty you feel able to offer to every moment of your relationship. The assumption is that if you were so upfront and precise about your wants once, you can do it again and again. By voluntarily resolving to bring your unspoken social contracts into the light of day, you’ll both feel that much safer in the long run to be purposeful communicators in how you connect.

Awareness of your partner’s needs

A clear understanding of a couple’s needs in a relationship is critical for the survival of the partnership. It will be simpler for you to have a clear grasp of your partner’s emotional, spiritual, physical, and sexual requirements if you create a partnership contract so that both of you may attain them collaboratively.

Clarity and alignment in your intentions

A relationship agreement is an important step in achieving clarity and harmony in your long-term aspirations as a couple. Closeness and romance, for example, are seen to be the fuel that nourishes a relationship, but this depends on the motive behind the romantic gestures and the type of intimacy that thrives in a partnership. Couples will be able to resolve unneeded misunderstandings and fears by having good dialogues with one another.

Arriving versus sliding 

Have you ever heard of the arriving vs. slipping effect? Simply said, there is a significant psychological difference (that either favourably or badly influences your relationship in the long run) between sliding into your major relationship milestones and arriving at those same milestones by making a decision. To put it another way, deciding on something and giving it deliberate consideration is preferable to merely do something because it feels like the natural next step. It makes no difference if you have been dating for five hours, five weeks, or five years. It’s never too late to write a relationship contract with your spouse since it helps drive a stake into the ground that corresponds with the effort and communication clarity that you wish to bring to your love life. 

So, instead of keeping your social contracts hidden, ambiguous, and unwritten, sit down and say, “This is what matters to me,” and then let your spouse do the same.

Things to know before signing a relationship contract

Since each person in a committed relationship is concerned about his or her assets or fortune, these contracts help to define the rules or restrictions of your connection. As a result, such a social contract should be signed in the presence of a legal practitioner, such as a lawyer.

There are several concerns to consider before signing such an agreement, including the following:

The choice to choose whether the parties want a relationship contract or not 

Decide whether or not you want a relationship contract, always take your time in choosing the contract and ask at the appropriate moment, define the gravity of the contract, and be open, trustworthy, and honest.

Addressing the problems separately 

You should write your problems individually to ensure that the contract does not represent the preferences of one spouse. Before signing a relationship contract, you should understand what should and should not be included in the contract. A relationship contract template can help you understand what it will cover.

Be polite if and when erred

You will not face any sanctions since if one of you breaks the contract, you are expected to raise the matter politely. Human mistake is unavoidable.

Be mindful of the hardships 

Always take care of the difficult activities, because relationship contracts help to avoid disagreements about the distribution of household chores and obligations. The main concepts of a relationship contract are to resolve any type of conflict and to prevent it from recurring. It may be exhausting, but it will make life easier and more fun.

Focus on the details 

To avoid falling into marriage, each couple should set a deadline by including an expiration date in their contract. When that date arrives, you can freely agree on the processes to include in your partnership. This is why relationship contracts should be drafted in the early stages of a relationship. Examine a relationship contract template to get a sense of what it entails.

The contract should be updated regularly. This will aid in adjusting to any type of change, which is unavoidable. It is a set of parameters that have been agreed upon. It is critical to make it official in both soft and hard copies. By reviewing your relationship contract regularly, you may be reminded of how wonderful you have it, how valuable your relationship is, and how much you value one another.

After you have decided what to include in your contract, you should print it, put a date on it, and sign it. You may either frame it as a sign of your dedication to each other or hide it.

The intention of the parties in wanting a relationship contract

  • When you sit down to draft your contract, take time to reflect on why you feel obliged to do so in the first place.
  • What overriding advantage are you (and your partner) primarily seeking by creating a partnership contract?
  • Do you desire a sense of safety and security? Is this a fun activity that you would want to try? Do you seek clarity on the discovery and alignment of your life objectives and values?
  • Discover and communicate your principal purpose to your partner when you begin your brainstorming session.

When it comes time to draft a personal contract, one should take a step back and question himself or herself what prompted him or her to create a relationship contract in the first place. The contract specifies how a couple will remain together, how obligations, money, and material goods would be divided, and whether or not any other component would be of considerable interest to the pair.

As a result, a relationship contract should be drafted in the early phases of a relationship. It is also critical to be aware of any potential changes that may occur to maintain flexibility in the connection.

Whatever motivates you to create a contract, you should track it down and share it with your spouse. You are expected to be strong and intelligent enough to adapt to any type of change that may occur as a result of shifting circumstances.

Details of a relationship contract

The items to include in a relationship contract are many and differ depending on your relationship, future goals, and past experiences. The following are some of the concerns that a couple should address in a relationship contract.

Details about the property and finances

Such a term attempts to cover all the properties of the parties entering into a relationship contract, including those they owned before starting the relationship and those earned by both of them.

Property inherited or acquired as a consequence of gifts received throughout the relationship

 Any property given to a couple becomes the legal property of the two of them. This includes presents from a commitment event, an anniversary party, or from a friend or family to one of you or both of you.

Expenses 

The agreement should specify how the parties should or would want to handle their spending. This might include how they divide their daily utilities, and the cost of meals and washing, to name a few examples.

Death or separation 

It is important to give a brief discussion of what could happen if the parties resort to divorce or if one of them dies. In the event of a divorce, the parties may decide to divide the property they acquired together equally or according to each other’s contributions. The fortune stays in the hands of the living partner after death.

Resolution of conflicts

All modalities of dispute resolution should be included in all partnership agreements. Couples used to resort to court to settle their differences in previous years. Couples are now urged to pursue alternative conflict resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration if mediation appears to fail.

What should you include in your relationship contract

You and your partner might theoretically include an endless number of categories of items in your partnership contract. The following are some of the most typical aspects that several parties have emphasised in th]eir contracts :

Dates and date nights 

Information on when dates should happen, how often they should happen, what they should frequently consist of, who plans them, the balance between stay-at-home date nights vs. go-out-for-something-special date nights, etc. must be included in a relationship contract.

Responsibilities 

How will each couple accept responsibility for themselves?  Information regarding their health, happiness, career progress, emotional growth, personal development, etc. must be included in a relationship contract.

Details about the balance and independence in the relationship 

The relationship contract should include specifics about the partners’ relationship’s balance of independence vs. closeness. So, points like how much alone time they will prioritise, how often they will spend time with their friends outside of the relationship, how often they will take separate vacations, etc. must be covered

Conflict resolution 

Dealing with issues as they arise, say for instance, never going to bed angry or coming clean and being honest about each other’s emotional reactions or anything like never risking the relationship by insinuating during a disagreement with ” Maybe we should just break up then” are certain things which can be included in a relationship contract. 

Avoid unnecessary disagreements 

Committing to extreme candour and not skirting around sensitive matters unnecessarily is one of the most crucial points to be added to a relationship contract.

Planning of domestic tasks 

plans to divide home chores/tasks that are related to the relationship must also be included in a relationship contract.

Celebrations 

Determining how they will commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones is one of the important points to include in a relationship contract.

No secrets 

Agreeing not to keep any secrets from each other, with secrets defined as anything you know/do/thought/said that you don’t want your spouse to know about can also be included in a relationship contract. 

Breach of a relationship contract

Many couples are generally engaged before getting married. It is advised that a relationship contract be much more than a collection of expectations and rules that must be followed. Some difficulties may not require much attention for your relationship to thrive effectively. However, some things may be difficult to do in everyday life, such as resolving disagreements as they happen.

We sometimes find ourselves breaking some elements of our relationship contracts; we should always remind ourselves of the necessity of following each detail in the contract.

Keep in mind that your contract is made up of guidelines. Although you are prone to human mistakes. To be in a stable position, you must strictly adhere to it.

Allow your relationship to change over time

Individuals evolve. Relationships change, and so do hobbies. As a result, your partnership contract should always evolve. It is strongly advised that you review and update your relationship contract frequently.

Your social contract should be revisited and updated every 6-12 months. This comes highly recommended. Don’t put things off until it’s no longer relevant. It’s meant to be a routine.

If you and your spouse continuously review and update your relationship contract, there is a good chance that you and your partner will have a strong, healthy, and successful relationship.

The legality of a cohabitation agreement 

The number of unmarried partners living together has increased dramatically during the last 10 years. Unmarried partners are not subject to the same rules and protections as married couples when they cohabitate. As a result, when unmarried partners divorce, there can be costly and convoluted property and financial conflicts. Unmarried partners have begun to use cohabitation agreements to prevent these concerns.

A cohabitation agreement, also known as a nonmarital agreement, is a legal instrument that protects the couple’s rights and assures financial security for both parties. This formal contract is negotiated between the partners and lays out each person’s duties.

The following are some of the issues that may be agreed upon in a cohabitation agreement:

  • Property and debts owed by each individual before living together.
  • Contributions made by each partner while living together (how much each partner will put towards common bills like rent, utilities, etc.)
  • When a couple divorces, how do they share their joint property?
  • What to do with any joint debt if the couple divorces?
  • Will alimony be paid if the couple divorces?

A cohabitation agreement can be valid for same-sex or opposite-sex couples, and it can include anything the parties see appropriate to safeguard their respective interests. A cohabitation agreement will make it simpler to divide property and liabilities in the case of divorce or death.

How to draft a relationship contract 

I’ve found that the finest and easiest structure to use for a relationship contract is as follows : 1. Introduction, 

2. Contract items, and 

3. Signature.

Begin by writing, “This contract is made between (YOUR NAME) and (YOUR PARTNER’S NAME).” This agreement’s term will begin on (START DATE) and will last until (END DATE) (END DATE OF TERM).

We have agreed in our partnership to ”…”

Then, specify the relevant contract components.

THE COUPLE 

This Relationship Contract (“Agreement”) is dated __________________, 20___ and is drafted for the Couple’s mutual benefit. Furthermore, the purpose of this Agreement is only to create ground rules and limits for a loving and productive partnership.

Boyfriend’s name is __________________, and his mailing address is ___________.

Girlfriend’s name is __________________, and her mailing address is ___________.

EXCLUSIVENESS 

The Couple has agreed to participate in an : 

  • Exclusive relationship :  This implies that each Partner pledges to be sexually and emotionally faithful. Other sexual partners are not permitted.
  • Open relationship : This means that neither of the partner is obligated to be sexually or emotionally faithful to the other. When engaging in sexual acts outside of the relationship, the sexually active partner is obliged/ not obliged  to : 
  •  Use protection in the form of condoms or other.
  •  It is not necessary to utilise sexual protection.
  • Other ____________________________________________

LIVING AGREEMENT 

The couple has decided to live together

  • Separately- Each partner commits to living in their own home and bearing their living expenses.
  • Together- The couple agrees to live together and share a home. Furthermore, each Partner is liable for the following living expenses:

Boyfriend:__________________________________

Girlfriend:______________________________________

INCOME

 The couple has agreed that each partner’s income will be as follows: 

  • Their own. Any revenue obtained by each Partner throughout this Agreement is their responsibility.
  • Shared. During this Agreement, any revenue earned by each Partner will be the property of the Couple.

BANK ACCOUNTS 

The couple has decided to have : 

  • They have their SEPARATE bank accounts- Each Partner is not required to give the other access to their bank accounts.
  • SEPARATE and SHARED bank account- Each Partner may have his or her bank account. Furthermore, the Couple is needed to open a joint bank account, which must be paid equally by the Partners.
  • MERGE all into a single bank account- The Couple is obligated to transfer all of their cash (located only in checking and savings accounts) into a joint bank account.

 PERSONAL NEEDS 

The couple has agreed to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Date Nights- The Couple commits to having ___ night(s) every month that is “distraction-free,” with complete focus on the other person.
  • Romantic Interaction- At least ___ time(s) every month, the Couple shall engage in personal and passionate actions.

 DISMISSAL

 This Agreement will be in effect until a(n):

  • Dissolution- This Agreement shall remain in effect until one Partner sends the other notice of dissolution and, as a result, the termination of this Agreement. If there are any financial obligations under this Agreement, each Partner shall continue accountable to such commitments for an additional ___ days following the separation date if there is a breakdown.
  • Expiration Date- This Agreement will be in effect until the end date of __________________, 20___ (“End Date”).

LIABILITY

 The Couple accepts that each of them will be legally responsible for the following: 

  •  For ALL Terms- The Couple accepts that each Partner is legally obligated to the conditions of this Agreement, including, but not limited to, financial obligations and emotional anguish.
  • Only for FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS- Each Partner recognises that he or she is legally accountable exclusively for the financial responsibilities outlined in this Agreement. Regardless of the emotional pain caused by a Partner, they are not liable for their actions.
  • For NOTHING in this agreement- In this Agreement, neither Partner shall be financially or emotionally accountable to the other.

 RESPECT FOR ONE ANOTHER

The Couple agrees to the following to preserve a fair and transparent relationship: (Initial where applicable)

  • Honesty- The couple promises to keep their connection completely honest and to constantly communicate what is on their minds. Each Partner pledges to listen to such candour and not pass judgement on the other person’s point of view.
  • Political Views- The couple has agreed to listen to and respect one other’s political opinions. If one Partner does not choose to engage in political discussion, they may do so at any moment and must be respected by the other.
  • Judgment-Free. Each Partner commits to constantly listening and advising in the best interests of the other Partner. Each Partner undertakes to make statements that depict the other in a favourable and positive light, free of shame or criticism, especially in public situations.
  • Family- The Couple agrees to spend time with each other’s families. This is mainly around the holidays and other times of the year when neither Partner has any other obligations.
  • Disputes- Each Partner agrees to always make a good-faith attempt to settle any dispute or issue amicably. Either Partner has the choice to take a “time out” and leave the situation. If a “time out” is called, each Partner commits to remain silent and offer.

 ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS

_________________________________________________\s______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

EXECUTION 

Each Partner certifies that they have read and comprehended this Agreement in its entirety and have signed on the undersigned date.

Boyfriend Signature: ______________________________ Date: _______________

Print Name: ______________________________

Girlfriend Signature: ______________________________ Date: _______________

Print Name: _____________________________

Sample format of a relationship contract

The effective date of this relationship contract agreement is ………………..

(date of signing the contract) whereas the termination date of this contract is……………….

(mention the termination date of the contract).

EFFECTIVE LENGTH of the contract therefore is…………………….(give the total length of the contract).

This is a relationship contract agreement that has been formed between PARTY 1 and PARTY2 to………………….. (give the purpose of formation of the contract). By the means of this contract, the parties are laying down terms for their future together as…………………

(give the future status of the relationship)

The contract has been formed by and between:

PARTY 1

Name of the PARTY 1: ………………..

Residential address of the PARTY 1:……………….

The contact number of the PARTY 1:…………………………

(Mention all of the personal details of PARTY 1 in these spaces)

AND

PARTY 2

Name of the PARTY 2:……………………

Residential address of the PARTY 2:………………………….

The contact number of the PARTY 2:…………………..

(Mention all of the personal details of PARTY 2 in these spaces)

Details of the RELATIONSHIP

PARTY 1 and PARTY 2 are formalising the rules of their relationship and some of these rules are given as follows:

  • ……………………………………………………………………………………
  • …………………………………………………………………………………….

Please note: The above template is only a sample format for reference, derived from a website. While drafting a relationship contract it is always advised to consult a legal practitioner or an advocate to avoid any discrepancies. 

Conclusion 

Having a relationship contract is one of the wisest decisions that a couple can ever have to the surety of their wealth and how it will be managed after they die. Having a clear knowledge of a couple’s demands in a relationship is very important for a relationship to survive. These documents assist in defining the guidelines or limitations of your relationship. This type of social contract should be signed in presence of a legal practitioner such as a lawyer.

Before signing a relationship contract you should know what goes in the contract and what should not. A relationship contract template is useful to give you an idea of what it will cover. If one of you breaches the contract, you are supposed to bring up the issue in a polite manner. A relationship contract should be formulated at the early stages of a couple’s relationship. The contract directs how a couple remains together, responsibilities, money and material wealth will be shared. It is very important to make it official both in soft and hard copies.

Relationship contracts are less likely to be focused on coercing the other partner into submission. This is because these types of contracts cover your properties, your investments, and other vital issues. It should be a way for couples to communicate effectively and in a polite manner. Having a relationship contract would help couples in not allowing a third party to influence their relationship negatively. It also helps in settling disputes when couples separate. A contract directs individuals on how they should relate with the extended family and guidelines to follow when a conflict of interest arises or seems to occur.

References 


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