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Protecting yourself if you purchase a house while cohabitating

There was a time when couples waited until after they were married to purchase a house. Throughout the years however, things have changed and more and more often people involved with each other, who are not interested in entering into the union of marriage, are opting to buy a house and live together. In these situations, should the relationship come to an end, legal issues could arise regarding how the house will be divided.

When the relationship between a couple that is not married but lives together, ends, few want to continue to cohabitate. This means that assets will need to be divided and at least one of the parties to the relationship will need to move out. In situations such as these, because living together is not considered a partnership the way a marriage is, those involved will not have automatic property rights. Instead, specific facts related to the relationship will be looked to in determining whether the house will be divided.

Factors that could be relevant in making this determination include:

  • The presence of a joint bank account
  • The length of the relationship

To address potential ambiguity regarding how a house will be handled should a couple living together decide to go their own ways, a cohabitation agreement could be helpful.

This agreement, created when the relationship is still working, is much like a marriage agreement. It outlines the responsibilities as well as the rights of those involved should a split occur.

A family law lawyer can assist individuals both in creating a cohabitation agreement as well as in securing his or her fair share of assets such as a house should the relationship end.

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