More millennials and divorced people are deciding to live with their boyfriend or girlfriend in lieu of marriage. For some, marriage is not desired; for others, marriage might only be considered after a period of cohabitation. Either way, moving in with your significant other creates both personal and legal issues to be considered and discussed.

According to a recent New York Times article, What I Wish I’d Known Before Moving In Together by Anna Goldfarb, couples planning to move in together need to develop a plan first. In the article, Galena Rhoades of the University of Denver accurately summarizes the issues cohabitating couples face:

“When you live together,” Dr. Rhoades explained, “you face all the issues dating couples face — time together, managing friends, jealousy, ex-partners — but you also face all the issues married couples face, like household contributions, managing money together and planning for future expenditures.”

If you are considering moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, here are several tips:


Before signing a lease or purchasing a home together, you need to resolve who will stay in the event of a breakup. It sounds harsh to discuss a breakup during an otherwise exciting time, however, knowing who will stay and pay the lease/mortgage/taxes/utilities and who will help contribute to relocation costs after a breakup can actually help relieve unnecessary stress during the relationship. Also, create a list of items each person wishes to keep, including any pets; such a discussion is often impossible to have at the end of the relationship.


Both parties should be fully aware of the joint budget and the other person’s ability to pay for house related expenses. Also, both parties should prepare for an illness or death so that the other party is capable of maintaining their home. Consider obtaining a term life insurance or disability policy to help with unexpected life events.


Discuss and establish mutual expectations for roles within the house such as decorating, cleaning, cooking, caring for pets, limiting screen time, and setting up an environment that can be shared or retreated to for privacy.

As a mediator and family law attorney, I am available to help you develop a legal and personal plan for your future living arrangements. Cohabitation in Illinois, especially after divorce, may create legal obligations that you should discuss with an attorney to ensure you are truly comfortable with your living arrangements.

Illinois Attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville, and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options, and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

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