Should you move in with your partner? This question confronts every ‘single’ human being pondering their relationship with another formerly ‘single’ person.  How much of a couple are you two?  The answer, and the consequences behind a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision to live together with your mate, can affect your life with that person forevermore.

Is it too early to move in together?

boxes in condoOne of the first major milestones in any relationship is co-habitation, and the ubiquitous sharing of all things. Even the first discussion about the big step to move in together is a huge milestone. Saying ‘No’ when asked can make things awkward between you and your mate, and be seen as a very selfish move. But on the other hand, it could be a very smart decision and waiting could preserve the relationship until it is stronger and both partners can more easily adapt to the change gradually.  Saying ‘Yes’ means the end of being Single in the City, and saying goodbye to Friday nights with favourite wing-people. Its start of something more substantial, productive and financially responsible. Or is it?

Tailor Law in Mississauga published Ten Things to Consider Before Cohabitation, which demonstrated the importance of ‘cohabitation agreements’ for the forward thinking single people in Mississauga pondering the length and breadth of their legal commitments to their mates. They put the list below on the blog (where it appears in much greater detail than you see here), so couples can reference a handy checklist before calling and booking an appointment with lawyers at this venerated firm.  Here’s their list with brief descriptions of each point that anyone can use to question their partner BEFORE they pack their bags or give out keys.

  1. What are your long-term relationship goals?

Don’t move in unless your mate is singularly focused and committed to YOU as their one and only dance partner. How does he or she feel about marriage? It might be nice to know that before living with them, especially if its not the same way you feel.

  1. What if one of us dies?

You can establish a will and cohabitation agreement, ahead of time if you want your partner to have your stuff and not your greedy blood relatives.

  1. Can we file taxes together? List each other on insurance?

Probably yes, talk to a financial adviser and or your insurance company about how you can set up your partner to file taxes together and or be a beneficiary.

a couple argues and fights over possessions when they break up4. Owner of the Household?

In the case of a separation, when it comes to property, it belongs to whoever’s name is on the lease or ownership of the dwelling / vehicle / property.

  1. Who will own the furniture / kitchen supplies / items we bought together?

Without a clear cohabitation agreement it becomes ‘he-says vs she-says’ and a potential legal mess.  No, your receipts won’t help unless you can establish a pattern.  Broken-couples fighting over their mutually acquired possessions is an age old story; don’t let this happen to you.

  1. Banking?

Want to open a joint bank account? A joint bank account is actually a good way to work together with your mate on savings, and payments deducted allow you both to share the responsibility.  Just make sure its a proper joint bank account with mutual access for deposits and withdrawals.

  1.  Money?

If you and your partner have a large difference in income, a cohabitation agreement in which spousal support is outlined is strongly suggested.

  1. Children?

After one year of living together with a child, you and your partner will be considered common law. In terms of supporting the child, the parents are considered the same as married and will be responsible for supporting the child financially and as a parent.

  1. Debt?

Smart couples devise a payment plan wherein both names are assigned to any and all outstanding financial obligations. In the case of separation, the loan or debt will remain in whoever’s name signed the documents, and you would not want to be stuck paying it alone.
cpala-condo7

  1. If we break up, will I need to worry about anything legally when I move on?

The article does a terrific job of laying down the parameters and bringing up issues that need to be considered before you move in , and making it clear that unless you have a cohabitation agreement there could indeed be legal issues resulting in your break-up.  Property, cash and children really complicate the split and no verbal understanding will carry weight in court unless it can be substantiated with receipts and other legal documents.  Even a cohabitation agreement is not, in the strictest sense, “legally binding”, but the document will be invaluable if one partner decides to litigate for monies owing or other outstanding liabilities.  A cohabitation agreement drafted by a lawyer and signed by a notary costs under a thousand dollars and exists primarily to prevent disputes before they arise.

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