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Should you buy a house together if you're not married?

If you and your significant other are unmarried but live together, you may still build up a collection of assets that you've purchased together. Unlike in a marriage, your assets aren't immediately divisible based on your shared interests, though, if you choose to separate.

When you cohabitate, you take a risk. You're not legally bound to the other party through marriage, and it can be hard to show who owns what out of your assets. How can you keep what is yours if the two of you break up?

The first step is to look into a property agreement. A property agreement is a simple agreement that dictates who owns what out of your property. It may also state how you will divide your property if you decide to separate in the future. It is similar to a divorcee's separation agreement, except for the fact that you should do it ahead of time.

If you do not have an agreement and want to separate, you may be in a difficult position. To prove that you own assets, you may need receipts, emails or documents to show they belong to you. If you can't prove it, then there may be little that you can do to claim those assets.

Your contract together should cover several things, including ownership arrangements for your home, how much of the home each partner owns, buyout rights if you separate and plan to keep the home in one of your names, what happens to your home in the case of a breakup and eviction rights.

Your attorney can help walk you through everything you should include in your agreement. You may not have to go through a divorce, but you still have to deal with many of the same issues if you and your partner don't stay together.

Source: FindLaw, "Cohabitation Property Rights for Unmarried Couples," accessed May 03, 2018

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