The "NEVERS" of Living Together
By Jared Laskin
..........When you're in love and excited about your new
life together, you may not be thinking clearly about protecting your financial
future. Accordingly, you may make some decisions that you will regret later.
..........There are some basic things that, no matter who
you are, and no matter what the circumstances, you should just never do
when you are in a non-marital relationship.
..........While we would like to say "never live together
without a written cohabitation agreement," (see Why
You Should Have a Cohabitation Agreement")
the ability to get such an agreement depends on your partner's willingness
to cooperate. On the other hand, you can observe the following list of
without your partner's cooperation, and possibly avoid a lot of grief:
..........NEVER contribute money to the acquisition of
a major asset, such as a house or a car, which is held solely in the name
of your partner. If you and your partner agree that an asset belongs to
both of you, it should be in both of your names. (Familiarize yourself
with the various ways in which title to an asset can be held: for example,
if an asset is held in joint tenancy, 100% percent will belong to the surviving
partner when one partner dies, whereas if the same asset is held as tenants win common, the deceased partner's share will belong to his or her estate.)
If credit problems prevent you from holding title in your name, there are
solutions to that as well.
..........NEVER become so financially dependent on your
partner that a break-up of the relationship or your partner's death would
leave you financially devastated. For example, if your partner encourages
you to quit your job, promising that you will always be taken care of, don't
do it until you at least have that promise in writing in an enforceable
..........NEVER let your partner remain in doubt about
your expectations and intentions. Even if your partner won't sign a written
agreement, you can at least document your understanding of your agreement
in a letter (send a copy to your lawyer or some other third party you can
trust at the same time). Your conduct should never be ambiguous. Some
.................... If you give your partner money as a gift, write
"gift" on the check to make clear that you are not paying the
money out of an obligation to support your partner. Similarly, if it is
a loan, document it as such.
.................... Don't refer to your partner as your "husband"
or "wife," adopt the same last name as your partner, or otherwise
hold yourself out as married to your partner, unless you and your partner
have agreed to have all of the rights and obligations of a married couple.
"Holding out" as husband and wife is powerful evidence in a palimony
..........NEVER put money in a joint account -- or hold
title to other assets in your joint names -- for "convenience"
or to "stengthen our relationship." Avoid joint ownership unless
you intend for all of your assets to be joint property (or unless you have
a written agreement clearly documenting which assets are joint and which
are separate). In a palimony suit, joint accounts and other joint ownership
can be strong evidence of an implied understanding that "what's mine
..........Avoid these "Nevers," and you will probably
avoid a lot of heartache.
..........The information on this Web page is based on California law. It is
not legal advice and cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel
licensed in your State based on the specific facts and circumstances of
your case. See Disclaimer.