Before You Move In
New Year, new start?
Before you move in with your significant other, you might want to consider a few things.
When we come together with another person, we merge not only our bodies and souls – we merge our lives.
Because Michigan doesn’t recognize common law marriage, there are no laws regarding cohabiting couples. What you create together in a living-together situation you may not be able to take with you if you eventually break up. Even if you hold yourselves out in every respect as a married couple, and support each other financially and emotionally as partners, her business that you helped get off the ground is hers for all of those years of cohabitation; and while the two of you may have decided to use your income to pay for household expenses and to save his income for retirement in his company’s 401(K), legally you have no right to share in those savings – during any period of your cohabitation – even if you eventually marry.
Unless you plan for it in advance.
There is nothing to stop a couple from having an agreement that spells out the financial terms of their relationship. You could look at it like any other business.
It may sound clinical or business-like, but you’re making an agreement, a transaction if you will, to live together without any legal commitment, so it’s a great idea to spell out the terms of this agreement.
- You agree to share household expenses evenly.
- You agree to bring the couch, while he’ll bring the dining room table. And in the event of a breakup you get to keep the couch, and he can take the table.
- You agree that your name will be on the lease, but you are each responsible to pay one-half of the security deposit. You agree that in the event of a breakup, you split the security deposit at the conclusion of the lease.
- Looking out even further into the future, you agree that your partner has a legal interest in the business you start during your period of cohabitation, whether the two of you eventually marry or not, given your equitable contributions to that business.
- Any pets you acquire during the relationship, well, don’t you want to provide for them?
It’s up to you, really. Solidify it or leave it open, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to spell out your rights, ownership and obligations and then seal the document for future use – if you ever need it.
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