Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
You thought you two would last forever.
After all, you took all the big steps like a relationship pro.
You moved in together…
You adopted a dog together…
You leased a car together…!
But now those dreams of relationship bliss are over because, alas! – you broke up. Now what do you do when you had moved in together and started building a life together? Everything from who gets to stay in the place to who takes over payments on the lease of the apartment or car must be sorted out.
You’re not the only one
The number of millennials living with their partners is rising. In fact, unmarried millennials are more likely to live with a partner at this stage of life than any other generation.
That doesn’t mean we know how the road ahead is going to turn out.
Breakups happen, even when you picture spending the rest of your life with this person.
Here are some of the legal implications of breaking up after you moved in with someone and how you can work it out:
Deciding who gets to stay and who should go
It’s best to handle conversations following your breakup in a civil manner. Here are a few tips:
• If you both want to stay in the place, the person living there first should stay.
• If the person staying needs a roommate to help cover the rent, then the person leaving should help their ex find a good one.
• If you’re the one moving out and you can’t find or don’t have the ability to rent another place, consider moving back in with your parents if you can. Living with your parents is the most common living arrangement for those of us in between the ages of 18 to 34, so it’s normal.
• Understand your agreement with the landlord. If any changes are to be made, let your landlord know right away. Then proceed with the proper process of getting the logistics lined up.
If you didn’t get naked with your partner about finances at the beginning of your relationship, you might have to at the end of it. You and your ex might have taken out a loan on a car together or opened a joint bank account, and now things need to be changed around.
When it comes to bank accounts & credit cards… Depending on how bad your breakup was, you might want to consider taking inventory of all your accounts. To prevent an ex from attempting identity theft, make sure you’re the only authorized user on your personal accounts.
About those high-end valuables that you both want to keep… Ideally you want to decide amicably with your ex who gets the big screen TV. But technically you take someone to small-claims court or civil court without a lawyer for disputes over valuables. Your chances of winning, however, depends on “joint-property laws in your jurisdiction and whether they apply to domestic partners.” So, if you can prove you bought the big screen, you could probably keep it.
For next time… Have a plan
Possibly the best way to handle the legal implications of breaking up is to have a cohabitation agreement with your partner.
A cohabitation agreement basically protects your rights and interest in the event of a breakup.
Deciding to move in together is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. It’s in your best interest to bring up the discussion of an agreement with your partner. As Warren Buffet once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”