QUESTION from LORI J., Northbrook, Illinois:
I am not married but want to purchase a house with my boyfriend and share expenses while we live together. I earn more money than my boyfriend.
What can I do to protect myself in the event we break up?
A properly drafted cohabitation agreement is a contractual device which allows non-married couples who are living together to plan some of the following: (1) the sharing of living expenses during the course of the relationship; (2) the division of joint property upon termination of the relationship; and (3) the retention of separate property acquired prior to, and after, the execution of the agreement.
Keep in mind that since these agreements are relatively novel in practice, they are tricky to draft properly. You need to find a skilled and creative family law specialist who also understands the legal ramifications of this type of arrangement.
If you are not sure about your relationship and/or do not want to pursue the legalities of an agreement, save your money and purchase the house yourself. At that point, whatever you do, do not add your boy toy’s name on the title no matter how good he looks or how many times he tells you that you do not look fat in your favorite ripped jeans.