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What should you do before you cohabitate?

When you're not married, you might have questions about keeping your property separate if you decide to move in with your partner. Many people assume that all assets are separate, but the fact is that many assets will be shared between you. For instance, if you purchase furniture or have a shared bank account, then those assets are likely to be shared.

Before you decide to move in together, one option is to create a cohabitation agreement. This agreement sets up rules for what happens if you separate. It can discuss things like shared savings or debts.

If you're making a major purchase when you move in together, make sure it's in the name of the person who is paying for it. If you're both paying for the mortgage for a house, then both of you should be listed on the mortgage. If you are buying a car, then only your name should be on the title. This kind of documentation can help you separate property correctly if you ever move out. You can go as far as to write "loan" or "gift" on a check to make sure you can prove that you weren't supporting your significant other, so that you can avoid issues relating to ongoing support.

Remember that you and your partner are not married, but that doesn't mean you can't be held accountable for child support or other financial obligations, especially if you have shared accounts. If you have questions about maintaining separate accounts, you should ask your attorney before you move in together.

Source: FindLaw, "Cohabitation Do's and Don'ts," accessed Nov. 15, 2016

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