Cohabitation Do’s and Don’ts

DOs

Think of having a cohabitation agreement in place before you start living together. This can establish the ground rules regarding the financial and other important aspects of the relationship preventing problems and misunderstandings in the future.

Hold the title of any major purchase in the name of the person who is actually making the payment. For example, if you and your partner decide to purchase a car and you pay the down payment and all installments, then the car should be on your name. Joint purchases should be held in the names of both parties.

Keep your finances separate. This will help prevent disputes in case the relationship ends.

Maintain accurate records of any financial contribution you make to any property held by your partner.

Write LOAN or GIFT on checks you give your partner. Checks without these words can be considered as support to your partner and this can cause a problem if the relationship terminates and your partner files for support.

Keep in mind that unmarried status does not affect your child support obligations.

DON’Ts

Commingle or mix your money by incurring joint debts, opening joint accounts or making joint purchases. Commingling can cause problems later especially if the relationship ends and your partner files for support.

Allow your partner to hold title to any property or asset alone if you have contributed to the purchase of that property even if your partner has orally informed you that the property belongs to both of you. Remember it is difficult to prove an oral contract.

Guarantee or co-sign any debt incurred by your partner. Doing so will make you equally liable for the payments even if the relationship ends.

Depend on your partner for your financial needs. This will create problems for you. You may not be able to support yourself in the future. In case of a cohabiting couple, it is more difficult to get support orders from the court compared to married couples. Consider having an agreement about support obligations in case the relationship ceases to exist.

Represent to public as husband and wife. Do not introduce your partner as your husband or wife or introducing yourselves as Mr. and Mrs. XYZ. This can cause problems if you split and your partner files for support.

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