A prenup for shacking up?
While unmarried split-ups will, by and large avoid any costly legal entanglements, there is the occasional nightmare such as comedian Bill Maher's ex who sued him for breaking promises to marry her and father her children, or a man who sued his ex-fiancée for what he claims was her backed share of the rent and costs related to the wedding that was not to be. The lawsuit against Bill Maher was since dropped, while the jilted ex-groom's case is still ongoing.
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Thankfully, these cases are outliers. But one way to ensure order when parting ways is to write-up a cohabitation agreement. These legally binding contracts have been increasingly utilized by unmarried couples in addition to non-romantically linked roommates and tenants. These agreements can be used to layout a formal record of responsibilities, both practical and financial (e.g. mortgage payments, child care costs, etc.), however they can also serve as a kind of like a prenup for unmarried couples should things not work out.
Wynne Whitman, attorney at the law firm Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP told us "Take the time to have the uncomfortable conversation about what you anticipate happening if you break up. Everyone feels better if you've taken the question mark out of the equation." In fact, Whitman suggests couples sign a cohabitation agreement specifically outlining who brought what to the relationship and how expenses will be divvied up in the event of a break-up.
Whitman added that only those who have "lots of assets" should consult a lawyer. Otherwise, you could fill out your own basic outline of who bought what into the relationship, and what they will bring out. As noted above, online service such as LegalZoom have preloaded cohabitation agreements available for $14.95. If it helps mitigate the pain of a split-up, it may be worth it.
Chris Rock said it best: "relationships are easy to get into, hard to maintain." If a time comes when maintaining them is no longer worth the benefits, then it is best to take care of things in an orderly, mature fashion. Breaking-up will always be hard to do, but you would both be wise to not pile on extra unnecessary hardship.
Written by Evan Dashevsky for Bundle.com
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