Even if you aren't legally married, New York law permits you to have a cohabitation agreement with your partner. This document sets forth critical legal parameters of your relationship in writing, defining various rights and responsibilities you have toward each other. It can help to protect your interests if the relationship ends: you may avoid leaving with nothing and possibly having your life end up in a financial shambles. The agreement can address how property is to be distributed, continuation of financial support, medical and insurance issues, debt repayment, care of children, and inheritances. These are the most significant areas covered, among others. An enforceable cohabitation agreement also reduces potential disputes, because mutual obligations have been spelled out and agreed to in advance. It's an option that can provide a gay or lesbian individual with safeguards similar to those conferred by a prenuptial agreement, although not quite as comprehensive.