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Property division disputes not uncommon for cohabitating couples

Worcester residents may be familiar with the increasing divorce rate in the United States. Due to the economic crisis, the rising costs of living expenses and overwhelming debt, many couples consider living together. Cohabitation may fall under non-traditional family matters, but just like married individuals in Massachusetts, once they decide to go their separate ways, property division may prove to be challenging.

According to a study, it has been determined that almost 60 percent of the couples who were living together and then broke up with their partners continued to live together for financial reasons.

There are certain steps to follow to ensure that the financial end of things goes smoothly. Before living together, each partner should devise a personal budget that can cover the monthly bills, utilities and other expenses. Each partner can also buy items separately. Doing this may permit each person to understand what they really own and will be entitled to if they break up.

Keeping financial reports, credit card statements and shared expenses may also make the division easier and lighter. In instances where the couple cannot divide the property, one or the other of the couple may wish to buy the other partner's contribution to the purchase or exchange items. The items can be sold and the proceeds can be divided fairly between the partners.

Couples who live together can also create a cohabitation agreement. The cohabitation agreement may designate separate property as well as distinguishing the rights and obligations of each partner. The agreement may also allocate how unmarried couples handle the property, money and debt during and after the relationship.

Compared with marriage, cohabitation may bring a lot of advantages. However, just like any relationship, whether traditional or non-traditional, it has advantages and disadvantages. With that in mind, writing a cohabitation agreement may be a good idea, particularly when it comes to financial stability and non-marital disputes. If the couple decides to do that, it may be a good idea to involve an attorney with knowledge in that area of the law.

Source: Business Insider, "8 Tips on Protecting Your Finances Before Moving In with Someone," Megan Durisin, Mar. 19, 2013

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