Living Together? A Domestic Partnership Agreement is a Must Have.

wb051448More folks are living together and putting off marriage.  They buy homes together; combine debt; co-sign on student loans; have children; and file taxes together.  They combine incomes and often times one partner may stay at  home taking care of all the day-to-day business of living while the other partner works.  What does this relationship sound like?  Marriage.   There is, however,no common law marriage relationship law in Minnesota.

When you live together in Minnesota and then break-up, Minnesota marital laws do not apply to your relationship. Minnesota laws that govern property,  debt division, custody, and parenting time do not apply to unmarried couples who live together whether opposite sex couples or same-sex couples.

Do you have to get married?  Not necessarily.  Basic contract law applies where two folks want to create an agreement that delineates their responsibilities and contributions to the relationship.   If they break-up and there is a disagreement on property or other jointly owned assets or division of debt, then one or both may proceed to court in civil law .   The terms and conditions of the parties’ agreement become the basis for dividing property, debt division, custody and parenting time for joint children with some caveats.

For example, suppose the parties buy a house together and live together. There are issues in how the parties take title to the property; there are issues in how the parties pay the mortgage, property taxes, repairs, and other costs .  If one party pays more towards joint bills every month, then how is that party compensated when the property is sold?  Does the other party contribute non-monetary efforts that would equal being paid more when the property is sold?  What happens if one party leaves and the remaining party wants to keep the home?  Do they have to sell their home or can the remaining party buy out the other party’s interest?   The foregoing issues are just an example of what concerns the parties can address in creating their domestic partnership agreement.

Drafting a domestic partnership is a joint effort. An attorney can help the parties in sorting out the specifics.  The draft must conform to Minnesota law.   A domestic partnership agreement cannot seem to be based on the exchange of sexual favors only.  There must be other consideration for the agreement. Consideration is  legal language for what both parties are giving to one another.

A well drafted domestic partnership agreement is good preventive law.  Better to decide issues now while both parties are reasonable and clear-headed instead of when emotions run high because of a break-up.

Kate Willmore

Saint Cloud, Minnesota Family Lawyer & Mediator

Copyright July 2013

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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