Actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were living together for over twenty years and have two lovely sons. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are not married. Were they living in ‘sin’? Well, maybe according to the dogma preached by some outdated religious folks but the couples in these examples couldn’t be happier. But then, these people aren’t your normal average people, at least when it comes to money, fame and lifestyles in general. What about people who are not super rich and financially secure individually? That’s right – the equation does change a bit there. Let us take a look at seven things to watch out for when you’re thinking of cohabiting with your partner.
1. Difference in outlook – When two people decide to live together, there might be many reasons for them to come to that decision. For some, it is about feeling as good as married while for others it might be a way of saving money by living together but not necessarily being committed to each other. Either way, it is important for both people to be on the same page. If one of you sees a cohabitation relationship as a stepping stone to eventual marriage and the other person sees cohabitation as the final step in that ladder, then the setup might spell doom for your relationship.
2. Ignoring legalities – It is one thing to be trust your partner with all your confidence and assets but when it comes to the law, cohabitation is a whole new ball game. All over the world, certain places recognize cohabitation relationships or common law marriages as legal, whereas others do not. If you are involved in a common law marriage in a place where it is not legally recognize, you might face difficulties in times of separation or during a medical emergency.
3. Foregoing legal expertise – Just like any other marriage or union, some cohabitation relationships are bound to fail. This could happen for a variety of reasons but there is a certain consistency in the kinds of complications that arise out of a separation of a cohabitated couple. Who gets custody of the children? Who pays for the mortgage for the house that was bought using both incomes? However, these problems are in no way insurmountable, provided you have access to expert legal advice from attorneys and specialized agencies like oneplusone.org.uk. Do not, at any cost, ignore them.
4. The fiasco of bills – How do you split the bills when both people earn? The grocery receipts, the bar tabs, entertainment and education of kids, etc. are some of the many things that need to paid for. An even split is not always possible. Places where common law marriages are valid also have banks and financial institutions that allow joint accounts for such couples with proper taxation laws in place. Make sure that these things are properly discussed before moving in together.
5. Marriage/Cohabitation difference – A traditional marriage and a cohabitation relationship have similarities and differences. Be especially aware of the differences otherwise you might stand losing the legal standing of your common law marriage. Things like announcing to the world that you, as a couple, are together; staying at the same house legally, etc. are not required in marriage but definitely so in cohabitations.
6. Ignoring Cohabitation agreement – Just like marriages have pre-nuptial agreements to protect the interests of both parties in case of separation, common law marriages can also involve cohabitation agreements where couples can decide how to divide assets and responsibilities in case of separation. It’s pretty self explanatory and it makes things really easy for both parties.
7. Doing it for the wrong reasons – Finally, and yet most importantly, do not take a plunge into a cohabitation relationship for the wrong reasons. Do not do it because it’s “cool”; don’t avoid it because some church is against it. It’s your life, and being honest to yourself and your partner is the most important thing.
Once you ensure that you have not ignored any of these warnings, you shall be more prepared to make a decision about moving in with your partner, with or without the marriage certificate.
Holli Pickford is in a long term relationship and living with her partner, she wants to share her experiences and knowledge to help other couples protect themselves.