6 Terms to Include in Your Dating Contract

Each dating contract (aka cohabitation agreement) should be as unique as the couple signing it. However, there are some terms that all couples should consider including to make sure that the agreement is fair, reasonable, and helps the relationship.

Expectations


Reason: To ensure that you and your partner are on the same page regarding how your relationship will progress, what financial and household obligations each will hold, when you will pool your incomes vs keep them separate, whether you will make joint or sole decisions about major purchases, and so on. Being on the same page helps you reach an agreement that is fair to both of you, decrease future conflicts about finances and responsibilities, and negotiate a settlement if you break up.

Examples:

“Whoever earns less in any given year will be responsible for cleaning and cooking.”

“We will have a joint checking account for paying joint bills, such as rent and electricity. We will equally contribute to this account twice per month.”

“Except for buying groceries, we will keep all our incomes and expenses separate and can make major purchases without conferring with each other.”



Ownership


Reason: To identify who owns what property, agree on how ownership will be decided in the future, and define what certain payments mean. This will help clarify any confusions about ownership and make it easier for you to separate your property if you break up.

Examples:

“[Partner A] owns the house that we live in. [Partner B] will help pay for the house by transferring [xx] per month to [Partner A]. The payments are merely rent payments. They do not create any interest in the house for [Partner B]. If we break up, [Partner B] is not going to try and claim any rights in the house.”

“Any property that we purchase using our combined income will belong to both of us. If we break up, both of us can make a claim to the property in proportion to the amount each contributed to the purchase price.”

“If one of us pays for property but wants both of us to hold title, then the paying partner will gift 50% interest in the property to the non-paying partner. Once gifted, both of us will be equal owners of the property. If we break up, both of us will have equal claim to that property.”

Debt


Reason: To establish who is and will be responsible for what type of debt and agree on what it will mean if one of you pays the other’s debt. This will help you decide on whether to take out certain debt, be more comfortable agreeing to pay the other’s debt, and predict what your future will look like if you break up.

Examples:

“Each partner is solely responsible for debt in their own name and will not expect the other to help pay it.”

“If one partner pays for the other partner’s debt, the payment will be considered a gift. If we break up, neither partner can make a claim against the other to recover the amount paid.”

“If we take out a joint loan but do not pay for it equally, then whichever partner pays majority of the loan will get to keep the property if we break up.”


Pets


Reason: To agree on when, if, or how you will bring a pet into the family; set out responsibilities; and make a visitation schedule in case you break up. This will alleviate any fears you may have about getting a pet or sharing the pet after a break up.


Examples:

“Either one of us can purchase a pet without the consent of the other.”

“If one of us decides to purchase a pet without the consent of the other, then the partner who buys the pet will be solely responsible for taking care of the pet.”

“If we break up, we will share joint custody of our pet [name]. [Partner A] will have [pet name] on the first and third week of each month. [Partner B] will have [pet name] on the second and fourth week of each month.”



Palimony


Reason: To make clear whether or not and under what circumstances either of you may make a claim for palimony—the unmarried version of alimony. This may be your only opportunity to secure palimony, or if you do not want palimony, it will ensure that you do not find yourself unexpectedly responsible for paying it.

Examples:

“[Partner A] will support [Partner B] while [Partner B] attends graduate school. If we break up within 7 years of this agreement or [Partner B] graduating, whichever is later, [Partner B] will pay back [Partner A] [xx] per month for [xx] years.”

“If we break up, neither of us will make a claim for palimony against the other. Neither partner owes the other financial support after our relationship ends.”

“If we break up, [Partner A] will receive palimony of [xx] per month for [xx] years if, and only if, we have children during the relationship and we jointly agree that [Partner A] should stay home with the children, and [Partner A] stays home with the children for at least 5 years.”

Mediation-Arbitration clause


Reason: To set up a mechanism for resolving disputes during the relationship and in case of a break up. This will allow you to solve problems privately and quickly. Instead of going to court where the rules are unclear and outcome unpredictable, a mediation and arbitration clause will allow you to remain in control of your life.

Example:

“If we break up, we will abide by this agreement. However, if we cannot agree on how to interpret this agreement or how it applies to certain property, we will first try to resolve our differences at mediation. If after mediation we still have unresolved problems, we will submit our claim to neutral and binding arbitration as detailed below.”

If you are wondering whether a dating contract is right for you or would like help in making an agreement, schedule a time to talk. We’d be happy to help!

MDC Law, LLC

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for Minnesota residents

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