It has become increasingly common for couples to live together either before marriage or instead of choosing to marry. Some of these cohabiting couples consider purchasing homes together, but doing so may not be a wise decision. If a cohabiting couple does decide to buy a home together, they might want to take a couple of steps to make certain that their respective interests will be protected.

Unmarried couples who split apart do not have their assets divided between them like they would if they had married and were divorcing. Divorce property division is controlled by the family law of the state. Unmarried couples who separate do not have any protections, and each person will leave the relationship with only the property that is in his or her own name.

When an unmarried couple jointly owns a home, figuring out what to do with it can be a problem. They might want to treat a home purchase like a business deal, drawing up a contract that specifies the percentages of all of the costs each will pay as well as what will happen to the house if the couple splits. Alternatively, one partner could purchase the home on his or her own and charge the other one rent in an amount that is fair.

A cohabiting partner might want to discuss a premarital contract for personal and real property with a property division law firm. A family law attorney might help by drafting an agreement that is similar to a prenuptial agreement in order to protect the client’s interests. If the couple decides to marry, the attorney might then help with drafting a prenuptial agreement to protect the client in the event of a subsequent divorce.