Deciding to move in with a significant other is a huge step in a relationship and any couple who gets to that point should be commended. There are many different people with many different opinions on the relationship / emotional side of moving in with someone. I’m actually a little glad my mom doesn’t read this, because I don’t want to launch into a hypothetical conversation about ethics.
What I want to pay some attention to is something that seems to be overlooked by people I know who have moved in together. I just want to point out that this isn’t a judgement in any way, only things that I have seen happen that I maybe would have done differently. That being said, I have never been in the situation and I can definitely see how all the positive emotions will cause the couple to gloss over some of the more practical issues, but as always I’m a firm believer that some practical thought when things are good make it much easier to handle when things are bad. Specifically, what does living together without having a formal marriage document mean for both of you financially, both when you’re together and if you split up?
In casual conversations I’ve had with people, the rules of common law seem very widely misunderstood. I will fully admit, before some research for this post, I had some incorrect assumptions about common law in Manitoba. I am happy to say that once I set the record straight, the laws aren’t as unreasonable as I once thought they were. Regardless, it is important to familiarize yourself with what you are and aren’t entitled to should you break up.
If you don’t agree with the letter of the law, based on how you and your partner are living, then it’s time for a difficult decision. I’m not a lawyer, but common sense would dictate that should you believe that you have a level of entitlement to certain possessions, but the law disagrees, a signed agreement needs to be created. If you decided to pursue this, then an even more difficult discussion needs to be had.
You need to sit down with your partner and agree to how the assets, monies and responsibilities will be split while you’re together, as well as if you break up. While I agree there is nothing less exciting than having this conversation, I’m a firm believer that it should be had during a happy time, when you still care about the person. You are thinking more clearly and don’t have all the messy, negative emotions you have when you’re doing through a breakup.
Once the agreement has been made and signed, then you have a basis to defend your rights on. This can be for anything from the owner of certain objects not having to split them, to not getting kicked out of your home too early. Another thing, is having a guideline to base all “who gets what” conversations on helps keep emotions out of it, as much as possible.
If this is the most unromantic thing you’ve ever read, I agree. One last thing I would say is to really think through combining finances. Even if you’re living together, it doesn’t mean you have to share every bank account. This is just another backstop against what could make a bad breakup, worse.