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When You Need a Living Together Contract

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When You Need a Living Together Contract
252  |  A Legal guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples
Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to encourage you and help you
write down your understanding about your life as a couple. This chapter
doesn’t contain strategies on legally enforcing your living together
contract in a courtroom. If it ever comes to that, you will need to read
Chapters 10 and 11 and possibly seek help beyond this book.
Keep in mind that although you have the right to rely on the rules of
contract law—meaning that written, oral, and even implied contracts
should be enforceable and a court can invoke the doctrine of fair dealings
in your favor—this doesn’t mean that you should put all your faith in legal
protections. Going to court to prove your contract will be time-consuming,
expensive, and emotionally draining. In other words, it’s better to truly
trust your partner before you take a precipitous financial step together than
to rely on the notion that your contract will bail you out.
Example: Patti and Katherine move in together. After graduating from
college, Patti enters dental school. Katherine, too, intended to finish
school, but postpones her plans and supports them both until Patti is
finished. They had many conversations about their long-term plans, but
wrote nothing down about sharing the benefits of Patti’s new career.
After four years, Patti passed her dental boards. Katherine was ready to
resume her education, but Patti fell in love with a classmate and moved
out. Katherine was left with the flea market furniture, the flea-ridden
dog, and a feeling she was ripped off—and Patti went on to enjoy a
flourishing new career and luxurious life with her new partner.
Remember—they had no contract. Assuming that Patti and
Katherine intended to treat each other fairly, we can reasonably assume
that because Katherine put Patti through dental school, Patti would
reciprocate and pay Katherine’s school expenses. Would a court find an
implied agreement? Could Katherine prove an oral one? Maybe, but
maybe not, even though Katherine has a sympathetic case.
When You Need a Living Together Contract
Obviously, you don’t need a contract if you have no assets or are in a brief
relationship. But in a long-term and serious relationship, whether you’re
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