Living Together in Minnesota: How to Protect Yourself

There are many reasons you and your romantic partner might decide to live together without getting married. You may be expecting a child together. You may feel a commitment to each other, but not feel quite ready to take the leap that marriage entails. Or you may have realized that while you both have separate residences, in practice, you're already spending all your time together.

Whatever your motivations, moving in together is usually a joyous beginning. At such a happy time, it can be difficult to envision, much less plan for, a future in which you have to protect yourself financially and personally. Given that at least half of cohabiting couples break up at some point, though, it's foolhardy to dismiss the possibility.

Moving in Together? Consider a Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation agreement may sound unromantic, but in reality it can create a strong foundation for living together that may actually promote the success of your relationship. The reason is simple: in order to form an agreement, you need to discuss the sensitive subjects it covers, as well as openly disclose important information, such as financial habits and history. An astonishing number of couples don't concern themselves with these mundane details, preferring to operate on the principle that “love conquers all.” Unfortunately, when partners have vastly different approaches when it comes to handling finances, that love is often severely tested.

A cohabitation agreement can be customized to meet the needs of you and your partner, but at a minimum, it should address how bills will be paid, whether assets and debts will be shared, and whether either party is obligated to support the other during cohabitation or even afterward.

The possibility exists that in the process of hammering out a cohabitation agreement's details, you and your partner may find you disagree about many things. In order to work things out, you can invest in a couple of hours of a mediator's time. Not only is mediation likely to help you resolve your conflict, but it helps you develops the communication skills to resolve disputes that arise after you move in together.

One reason many couples avoid making a cohabitation agreement is the unspoken fear that they won't be able to find common ground and will have to break up. This is, of course, a realistic possibility. If that's the case, though, it's much better to learn the truth before you've commingled your lives, and possibly your assets.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself When Cohabiting

Using good judgment doesn't mean you don't love or trust your partner. The converse is also true: jumping into a situation recklessly doesn't mean your love is true. Take your time and make informed decisions. Moving in together is a significant step. You don't need to “cement” it by buying a house or other large assets together. Many experts recommend living together for at least six months to a year before taking another big step to blend your futures. Likewise, keep your assets separate. If you feel the need to have a joint account for rent or household bills, consider setting up a small checking account into which you each contribute a specific amount every pay period. This could be an equal amount, or an amount that depends on your relative incomes--just so long as you both feel good about it.

For more guidance in protecting yourself when cohabiting, contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.A. at (952) 224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We can help you identify your concerns, evaluate your needs, and develop a plan that will work for you. We look forward to working with you.

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