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How to protect yourself when buying a home with your partner

Marriage is not for everyone -- in more than one sense. In Alaska, some people choose not to get married while others simply cannot. You do not have to be married, however, to share your life with another person. A marital agreement helps protect both parties in the event of a divorce, which is why it is important to take action to protect yourself in certain situations if you are not married.

For many unmarried partners, merging lives involves buying a home together. Before you take the plunge into homeownership, though, there are a few important conversations that every unmarried couple should have. 

First, you should know how much money you both have and how much you can afford to spend on a home together. If one of you makes a lot more than the other, you may want to consider different options than if you have similar incomes and want to apply for a loan together.

Next, you need to have a purchase contract. It is a fact of life that couples break up sometimes, so even if your relationship is great right now, it is important to be protected in case things don't work out in the long run. A contract should go into detail about how you are splitting the costs, how you plan to pay for improvements and how you want to share gained equity. With these details laid out, it will be much easier to determine what to do with the home if you should ever decide to split up.

Many couples across the country have decided to purchase homes before -- or without any intention of -- getting married. While it is the right choice for many of these people, it is important to make sure you are protected in the process.

Source: Associated Press, "6 tips for unmarried couples buying a home together," Alex Veiga, Jan. 18, 2014

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