Unmarried and buying a house together? How to protect yourselves

On behalf of Furr & Cohen, P.A. posted in Unmarried Couples on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

It is not uncommon for modern couples to decide against getting married these days. For a number of different reasons, people all across Palm Beach County may decide to forego the legality and tradition of marriage and instead commit themselves in a less formal manner.

While this is certainly understandable, being in a committed relationship without being married can leave individuals exposed to certain consequences should the relationship come to an end. For example, if you and your partner decide to buy a home together, you could wind up in a costly battle to determine who owns the property and retains rights to it when and if you break up. However, there are ways you can both protect yourselves.

If both of you will be contributing financially to the home and want to establish legally your intentions to share the property, you should put this information in writing. Failure to do so could mean that the person whose name is not on the property will lose out on any share in the property.

There are also two ways to own the property together, which can make the process of dividing up the asset in the event of a break up.

  1. Holding the property as tenants-in-common: In this arrangement, both parties will establish how much of the property each person will have. This percentage will typically depend on how much each person is contributing financially to the purchase and maintenance of the house.
  2. Owning the property as joint tenants: In these arrangements, both tenants own the property equally. 

In these arrangements, both parties have rights to the property, even when they aren’t married.

Without any of these measures in place, one person can find it very difficult to prove any type of ownership over a property. If you are the person without your name on the title, you may walk away without any share of the property and without anything to show for any financial contributions you may have made to the home.

In order to protect yourselves when purchasing property, you would be wise to discuss your options with an attorney. While you may not want to get married, you don’t have to leave yourself open to financial damages and loss should a relationship end.