Statistics show that over 50% of couples living together are not married. Many have no intention of getting married in the near future, choosing instead to not be bound by the legal obligations of marriage. While this may seem like a good idea for various reasons, it also allows for many unintended consequences of the living together arrangement. This is especially true if the couple decides to purchase real estate together.
The laws that apply to marriage may seem onerous, risky or just inconvenient to some, but they can also be viewed as providing protections to the parties. The pitfalls of having no marriage contract applying to long term relationships have been recently brought to light by same sex partners seeking the protection of marriage. These same pitfalls apply to heterosexual couples who choose not to marry. Many of the risks and unintended consequences of couples living together can be mitigated with a well thought out and executed living together contract.
The contract can include everything from an arrangement for the payment of household expenses and other shared expenses, to identifying each party’s interest and/or contributions to real estate purchases. Negotiating these contracts and addressing these numerous issues may not be pleasant and is certainly not romantic, but it provides opportunities for the couple to discuss and agree on many issues they will face in the future. It will also provide less risk and more certainty in the event the relationship fails.
Couples living together should seek legal advice. Each party should have their own representation. Another option is to hire a mediator to help them through the process themselves.