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Division of Marital Assets

When Unmarried Couples Buy California Real Estate: Protect Your Investment When Living Together

By August 7, 2009June 16th, 2016No Comments2 min read

As we all know, it’s still a buyers market here in California, and you and your partner may be thinking about pooling your resources and buying a home together.  This can be a great investment, but it can also turn out to be a costly mistake if you don’t take the right steps.  Consider the story of a woman and her boyfriend who bought a townhouse together, as told in a Christian Science Monitor article by Marilyn Gardner.  She had contributed a smaller portion of the down payment, and had been paying part of the mortgage, but the home was titled in her boyfriend’s name only.  When they broke up, he kept the home and the equity, and she lost all the money she had put in. 

While unmarried couples living in California face many of the same issues as those who are married or in domestic partnerships, cohabiting couples usually take on a greater financial risk since the family law system isn’t there to provide any protections.  Even so, both of you can minimize risks and protect your financial futures by choosing the form of title that’s right for your situation and creating a cohabitation agreement.  A cohabitation agreement covers the sources for the down payment, whether both of you are responsible for mortgage payments and insurance, and addresses improvements and repairs of the property.

Cohabitation agreements can sort out more than just real estate issues, they also establish what other assets will be shared or kept separate, how debts will be handled, whether you can make medical decisions for one another, and so on.  If you’re planning on buying a home together, we’ll advise you on title issues and create a cohabitation agreement that meets your goals and answers important questions to help ensure things are handled fairly and clearly in case the relationship ends or you sell the real estate.  Contact our skilled Minella Law Group attorneys at (619) 289-7948.