More couples buying the house before tying the knot

A recent survey conducted by Coldwell Banker reveals a noteworthy trend: more couples at the age when they would most commonly get married are buying homes together before saying their vows. USA Today refers to the surveyed group of people between 18 and 34 as "millennials." According to consumer research, millennials don't see the lack of a wedding or marriage as reason to hold back on getting a home.

The survey shows that about one-quarter of the surveyed millennials got a home with their partners before marriage. Couples aren't just living together and renting together; rather, they are getting into a mortgage, living in an asset together. With this relationship and consumer trend in mind, there is a lesson regarding property division and something called a cohabitation agreement to be learned.

A rental property is a rental property. If a relationship ends, parties might bicker over who gets to stay in the apartment, but that isn't the same sort of argument that a couple might have if they went in on a mortgage together, or if both had plans of long-term home ownership.

Even if couples are not married, working with a divorce lawyer to come up with a cohabitation agreement can be a wise idea. Just as a marriage doesn't mean that a relationship will last, getting a home together doesn't mean that a relationship will last. And then how will the couple handle the division of their property, including their home? A cohabitation agreement works similarly to a prenuptial agreement. It can stipulate how the unmarried couple's property will be divided (or not) in case they break up.

Marital contracts and cohabitation agreements aren't the most romantic things for couples to discuss. But is romance more important than avoiding the stress that comes up if a relationship doesn't last forever? That's a decision that every couple must make for themselves. A family law attorney can help couples or individuals make an informed decision about whether they want to protect their property.

Source: USA Today, "More Millennials get house before getting hitched," Haya El Nasser, April 17, 2013

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