A lot of couples these days say they’re not getting married because they don’t want any “complications.” They’d rather live together, so they can decide whether the relationship works before they make a long-term commitment. 

Because if it doesn’t work out, it would be a lot less painful – and less expensive - to “break up” instead of having to get a divorce. But researchers say that unmarried couples who cohabitate are often more upset and financially devastated than couples getting divorced. 

Why? Unlike with marriage, there are no laws covering the division of property when “roommates” split up. So, if you bought a house together, or one of you finished school while the other paid the bills, you’re more likely to end up fighting it out in court. 

Also, there’s a lot of emotional upheaval when any couple splits, including anger, betrayal, and who gets to keep the cat. But our society elevates marriage above living together……So, friends, family and coworkers are usually less supportive and sympathetic when a couple that’s “just living together” splits up. 

What’s the fix?

If you don’t want to get married before you move in together, experts say you should seriously consider writing up a cohabitation agreement, which is basically like a prenuptial agreement for couples who aren’t planning to get married. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, “cohab” agreements cover things like the division of personal property, debts, and mutual assets – and who’s responsible for what if the relationship falls apart. 

If you’d like to talk to a lawyer about a cohabitation agreement, you can locate one at FindLaw.com. Or you do a DIY agreement through a site like LegalZoom.com.