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Cohabitating with your partner? Know the dos and don'ts

In our modern age, many couples make the decision to live together before getting married. This can be an appealing arrangement: You get to spend time with your loved one while also saving money on rent and necessities.

Cohabitation appears simple at first glance, so many couples do not anticipate the legal pitfalls that can accompany it. But like any living arrangement, there are important legal aspects to take into consideration. In this post, we'll go over some of the most important dos and don'ts of cohabitation.

Cohabitation dos

1. Keep the titles of major purchases in your name only. If the two of you make a joint purchase, try to make sure that you are making equal payments on it. This will make the process of property division much easier in the event that you part ways and move out.

2. If you are writing a check to your partner, consider writing "gift" or "loan" on it. That way, if you break up, you have evidence to show that you were not providing financial support.

3. You can still seek child support if you have a baby together--even if you are not married. In fact, parents who are seeking child support can often present cohabitation as evidence in court to support their claim for child support.

Cohabitation don'ts

1. It is not always wise to comingle your finances, cosign on a debt, or share a joint credit card if you are cohabitating. If your partner racks up debt, fails to make payments or makes an expensive purchase, you could be on the hook. Keeping all of your accounts and major purchases separate will make for a much cleaner break if you decide to part ways.

2. Don't let your partner keep the title to major assets, like the house and the car, in their name alone--especially if you are making payments. Your partner could walk away with these assets, leaving you nothing.

3. Finally, be sure that you do not co-sign or guarantee your partner's debts. This could leave you responsible for paying off half of these debts--even if you are no longer together.

Lastly, an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney can give you specific advice on all legal options available to you in your particular circumstances.

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