According to the U.S. Census Bureau, seven million unwed couples lived together in 2013, which was up nearly 2 percent from the previous year. It may be worthwhile for couples living together to create a financial plan before deciding to share a residence. The first step in the process is to plan a time to have a talk about finances before agreeing to split expenses.
This talk should be an open discussion about how much each person earns and how much debt each person currently has. Another goal of the discussion should be to figure out which bills each person is going to be responsible for. The bills do not need to split evenly, and ideally, the couple will live off of one salary if possible. Another issue that should be addressed is what happens if the couple breaks up.
It should be decided ahead of time which person will stay in a house or stay in an apartment if the relationship ends. It may be advisable to have the person who will remain be the only one to put his or her name on the lease. While a couple may wish to share expenses, it may not be necessary to merge bank accounts. For many, opening a joint account to pay for specific expenses may be enough to get by.
Couples who are not married may still have issues related to property division or child custody should they split up. A family law attorney may be able to help an unmarried couple after a relationship ends. In some cases, a long-term relationship may present some of the same family law issues as a traditional marriage.
Source: ABC News, "Merging Money? Couples Living Together Need a Financial Plan", Joseph Pisani, Associated Press, Feb. 11, 2015
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