How Can We Buy a House Together and Have It Remain the Property of Only One Partner?
We are auuming the parties aren't married. Cohabiting couples may create a contract for a couple living together. The agreement should be in writing. Please see the links to the forms below. Courts enforce many agreements between unmarried cohabitants regarding their property. These agreements may be implied, oral, or written. Implied agreements are unspoken "understandings" between two people which can be implied from their conduct. For example, if one party provides financial support for a live-in companion, a jury may find that the two had an "understanding" that support would always be provided -- even if the relationship broke up.
An oral agreement is an agreement made through spoken words. However, after a relationship breaks up, people often lie and the evidence of truth is hard to provide without written documents. Written agreements, while not always upheld, are the preferred method for creating binding obligations between the parties.
Cohabitants may contract regarding their property or hold property as joint tenants or tenants in common. In the absence of a prior agreement or common ownership, one party does not automatically gain rights in the property of the other party acquired during the period of cohabitation. Some states recognize an equitable claim, such as when one party has made contributions to property, in order to avoid unfair advantage to the other party.
Living together, or cohabitation, in a non-marital relationship does not automatically entitle either party to acquire any rights in the property of the other party acquired during the period of cohabitation. However, adults who voluntarily live together and engage in sexual relations may enter into a contract to establish the respective rights and duties of the parties with respect to their earnings and the property acquired from their earnings during the nonmarital relationship. While parties to a nonmarital cohabitation agreement cannot lawfully contract to pay for the performance of sexual services, they may agree to pool their earnings and hold all property acquired during the relationship separately, jointly or to be governed by community property laws. They may also agree to pool only part of their earnings and property, form a partnership or joint venture or joint enterprise, or hold property as joint tenants or tenants in common, or agree to any other arrangement.
Other legal issues that may be affect cohabiting couples inlude estate planning and medical care. Generally, someone who cohabits with another is not considered an heir under the law or have the same rights to make medical care decisions in the same manner as a spouse. Therefore, unmarried cohabitants may consider estate planning and power of attorneys in addition to having a nonmarital agreement.
In some cases of people who formerly cohabited, courts have found a trust created in property of one person who cohabits with another, whereby the property is deemed held for the benefit of their domestic partner. When there is no formal trust agreement, a resulting trust may still be found under certain circumstances in order to enforce agreements regarding the property and income of domestic partners. If there is evidence that the parties intended to create a trust, but the formalities of a trust are lacking, the court may declare a resulting trust exists. The court may also declare that a constructive trust exists, which is essentially a legal fiction designed to avoid injustice and prevent giving an unfair advantage to one of the parties. This may be based on the contributions made by one partner to the property of the other. Each case is decided on its own facts, taking all circumstances into consideration.