So here is a novel idea when it comes to your relationship – go to a lawyer and get a cohabitation contract drawn up. I’m not talking about who does the dishes and who takes out the trash – if you can’t handle that without an attorney then you have bigger problems than the simple division of labor.
A cohabitation contract is to erase any doubt as to what happens in the event of a break-up. Things that may be included:
- An outline of who brought what into the relationship and the agreement that assets held prior to the contract remain with the person who brought them into the relationship.
- How bank accounts are to be divided.
- How property is to be divided and who gets to stay in the house.
- How other financial assets are to be divided (investment accounts, retirement accounts, etc.)
- How debt is to be divided and a timeline for repayment to creditors.
- How are prized assets (think more sentimental value than financial value) are to be divided (this is where you would include your Nan’s china).
- How gifts are to be divided (you’d be surprised how many couples fight over a microwave given by a parent).
- Custody agreement of pets and/or children.
- Fill-in-the-blank letters to companies outlining the division of assets/debts and requesting the removal of partner from the account.
- Confidentiality agreement to protect the reputations of both parties.
- Agreement to use mediation or arbitration to resolve any outstanding disputes.