For many couples, moving in together before marriage is a logical choice. After all, it can save you money on rent, utilities, cable and other day-to-day living expenses. Besides that, you may really get to know one another – for better, or worse.
But what legal implications apply to cohabitation? There are legal matters that may arise after you make the move, if you do so without the benefit of a marriage license. The decision to live together should not be made lightly. Even if things go well, there are things that will crop up such as medical rights or financial issues, and whether or not your partner has a right to play a part in making decisions in the event of illness or death.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that you should explore before you make the decision to combine households:
- Consider a cohabitation agreement to set ground rules for financial and other issues that may arise.
- Keep finances separate.
- Keep any titles in the name of the person who purchased the car or property.
- When writing a check to your partner, make sure to write “gift” or “loan” in the memo section so there is no doubt as to the expectation of reimbursement.
- Keep accurate records of financial contributions to property owned by your partner.
- If you are both purchasing a big-ticket item, don’t let just one person hold the title to that item. Both of your names should be listed on large purchases that you’re both responsible for paying for.
- Keep your monies separate. Don’t open joint accounts – don’t co-mingle monies. Doing so can make things much more difficult should your living arrangements change.
- To avoid the legal complications of a palimony suit or the potential for common law marriage status, never refer to yourselves as Mr. and Mrs., or use the same last name.
If you’re thinking about combining households, you may want to consult an attorney to help you draw up an agreement that will keep things straight, and will take potential strain off of your relationship.
We invite you to consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.