Cohabitation often seems like the perfect solution for couples who are still not quite ready to commit to marriage or who have specific beliefs that go against the concept of a traditional wedding. While this arrangement has many benefits, it does get complicated once a couple decides to separate. Today, the American Psychological Association reports that cohabiting couples have five times the chances of breaking up compared to married couples. You should also know that a break up may not be so simple after years of living together. As you explore cohabitation laws, here are just a few reasons why a separation may be more complicated than you think.
Have You Thought Through All Scenarios?
As you begin to merge your life with a partner, you should be aware that things such as buying a car or a house get complicated. Always discuss issues beforehand such as who will keep a car that you buy together if the worst should happen (like a separation). Although these conversations may not be easy, they help to give you insight into how you will handle things if your relationship does not work out.
Do You Know Who Keeps the House?
At the move-in point, many couples assume that whoever owned the house would be the one who keeps it in the end. However, many things can happen over the years, and it is possible that one partner has been footing the bill for the mortgage payments to the point that they have invested more into the house than the legal owner. Situations such as these can degrade into a bitter battle unless you work with a divorce lawyer to understand your rights when you have personal property that is affected by your cohabitation arrangements.
Did You Combine Finances?
In the past, cohabitating couples tended to be younger, but the U.S. Census Bureau reports that current trends show that nearly one-quarter of all people living together before marriage are over the age of 50. This can generate major financial concerns regarding how you split combined finances that have accumulated together. Even younger couples may find that they no longer know for sure how to divide up the bank accounts when they have shared their finances for years.
Are You Sure You’re Not Married?
Believe it or not, common law marriages are still recognized in certain jurisdictions. For this reason, you may need to consult with a divorce attorney to find out if you must do more than simply move out to formalize your break up. This could be an issue if you have ever represented yourselves as married, filed a tax return together, or acquired real estate together. While you might not need to file for a formal divorce in many cases, you may need things such as a division of property agreement, to be established to make sure that your assets are protected.
Do You Have Kids Together?
Kids are often involved in cohabitation cases since a breakup naturally affects where and with whom the child will live with after one parent moves out of their home. This type of situation often gets very complicated, especially if both parents are seeking primary custody or there are issues with planning child support payments. When you have kids together, you must recognize that there are specific laws in place that must be followed regarding child custody and support agreements. Although you can work out your issues through mediation, you may still need to seek a court order to ensure that all of your arrangements are permanent.
Moving in together seems so easy, and the truth is that it works great for many couples to live together before marriage. Yet, you may be in for quite a surprise if you are not fully aware of the cohabitation laws in your area. Always go into a new living arrangement with full awareness of your legal obligations, and be prepared to seek legal advice from our experts when you have any questions about your rights.