As a relationship expert, I’ve seen all types of relationships start and stop for reasons as varied as the couples themselves. One situation that is particularly hard on both parties is when a break-up occurs while the couple is living together. Suddenly the couple is hit with the hard reality that they need to sit down and sift through a roommate break up protocol that they never thought they would face during their honeymoon bliss.
Rent.com conducted a survey and found that 38% of renters have ended a personal relationship with someone while still living together and 62% of those stayed for a month or much longer (even up to a year!) after breaking up. To avoid this awkward situation, there are a few steps couples can take in advance of moving in together that will hopefully help ease any future tension that may come up. While no one wants to move in thinking about the end, it is important to remember the times you’ve been burned and be extra cautious when embarking on a live-in relationship:
- Have a civil conversation. No one wants to think about breaking up, but if you aren’t the type to write up a formal agreement, sit down with your partner and talk with them about how you would like to handle important things in the event that your relationship doesn’t work out and you decide to separate. Discuss and come to an agreement about how you want to handle your apartment, furniture, personal belongings, pet custody, etc.
- Consider a dating prenuptial agreement. It’s become more common now than ever for couples living together to sign dating prenuptial agreements or other written agreements that clarify up front exactly how things will work in the event of a breakup. The agreement can cover everything from who gets the apartment and certain items within it to how outstanding bills will be handled when one partner moves out.
- Keep good financial records. When you live with someone you buy things for your household that you share as long as you’re living together. When you’re ready to part ways you’ll need to review your financial records to recall who purchased which items and how much they spent. Keep receipts, bank statements, credit card statements or a journal of shared expenses and purchases to make it easier to divide things up later.
- Purchase items individually. A new Rent.com study found a surprising result – couples found it harder to divide their actual stuff than to divide their financial responsibilities and bills. Some couples find it easier to purchase certain items individually rather than split the cost of each item to be shared. That way, in the unfortunate event of a breakup, the person who paid for the TV or bed is entitled to it, and the person who bought the sofa can take it or swap it with their partner for something else.
- Add your name to the lease. In the unfortunate event that you break-up with your partner and one of you has to move out, the person whose name is on the lease is in the best position to maintain possession of the space. If both names are on the lease, both people have a more equal opportunity to remain in the apartment and renew the lease.