His, Mine, Ours

DJ and I have lived together for just over two years, since before we were engaged. When we were ready to move in together he was ready to buy. I was not.  I was sort of adamantly against us owning property together before we were married, although I had no problem with living together unmarried. We’d recently seen friends of ours go through a breakup where there was joint property ownership, and I wouldn’t wish that trial on anyone. There are no laws to protect you if you aren’t married. If your mortgage partner doesn’t pay their share, guess what? You’re liable, and there’s no separation agreement to divide bills (in my state…)

So our condo is in DJ’s name only. Not because I thought we might break up, but because if we did that would be one less horrible thing to handle. We also shopped within “his” price range. If for any reason I weren’t paying the mortgage, he could swing it. If we’d broken up, I could have moved out without him selling or finding a roommate in a hurry. If living together had been awful, we’d have been heartbroken but not homeless. It’s also comforting in this job market that we could get by on one salary if necessary.

We’ve never treated it like “his” place, though. We’ve made improvements together to our home. But – I don’t have a renter’s agreement, which in a really ugly situation could be useful. DJ doesn’t have any legal right to charge me rent, nor do I have any legal right to live in our home. I also have no legal claim to any appreciation or reimbursement for any improvements we’ve made. Those were risks I was willing to take, but writing up a basic agreement for those things probably isn’t a bad idea.

Did you buy property or share a lease before marriage? I know I’m a big worrier – did you have a plan for the worst case?