What practices should unmarried couples avoid?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Unmarried Couples on Sunday, May 1, 2016.

There are a growing number of unmarried couples cohabitating in modern America, and regardless of how you may feel about the topic, the legal ramifications of such commingling are very significant. If unmarried couples do not approach their cohabitation correctly, the fallout if the couple eventually breaks up could have extremely negative side effects on both parties. It may be tempting to act as if you are married, but until you actually tie the knot, such behavior can be a detriment.

Examples of married behavior that couples should avoid include things like:

  • Opening joint bank accounts: In the event that the couple splits, it can be very difficult to divide the money in a joint account appropriately. You may end up losing a significant amount of money if you cannot prove how much you put into the account yourself.
  • Introducing yourselves as a married couple in social settings: Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of unmarried cohabitation, so you and your partner may find it easier to introduce yourself as a married couple when meeting new people. Unfortunately, if you split, there may be unforeseen legal complications of holding yourselves as a married couple to the public.
  • Agreeing to contribute financially to purchases made in one person’s name: If you and your partner make a large purchase, such as a house or a car, and that purchase goes only in one person’s name, you stand to lose a great deal financially. In the event of a breakup, the person whose name is on the property could simply take the asset, and any money you put toward paying for the asset could be forfeited.

The best thing for unmarried couples to do is to keep their lives as separated as possible until they are truly married. Cohabitation can work, but both parties should keep detailed documents about their income and expenditures. If you and your domestic partner do end up splitting, consider contacting an attorney to help you resolve any property disputes you may undergo.

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