Should girlfriend move in, pay mortgage?


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Dear Dr. Don,
My boyfriend and I have been together for 12 years. Over that period, I’ve kept my own apartment, paid all my own bills, helped him with his mortgage and bills, and paid for most of our entertainment expenses over the years. I don’t want to continue giving him money unless he gives me part equity. He wants me to move in and pay him the same amount that I’m currently paying for my apartment. At the same time, he will not entertain the thought of sharing ownership of the home with me. Who’s right? This has turned into a relationship deal breaker.

— Kay Cohabit

Dear Kay,
Keep in mind that you wrote to Bankrate. I know about finances and don’t consider myself a relationship columnist. But, you are right. You shouldn’t move in without a clear financial understanding about how your contributions to the household budget count toward a shared equity stake in the home. You’re not on the deed and you’re not on the mortgage loan, either. If you want to build equity in the home, then you need to change both of those things.

You’ve been together a dozen years, but you’ve kept your own place even while you’ve been helping him with his bills, including his mortgage, and paying most of the tab on your entertainment expenses. While you didn’t share the amount of your incomes, unless you’re just talking about very small bills, it doesn’t make sense.

I understand that not everyone wants to be married. Some who would like to be married are not asked. Regardless of those questions here, you’ve begun to build a life together with this man. After a dozen years, you are asking some good questions, and he still wants to treat you like a roommate instead of a life partner. That might be all right with him, but it doesn’t sound as if it is fine with you. So you need to draw this line in the sand.

Working with a real estate attorney would be the best way to decide how the house is titled to reflect ownership interests and whether there’s an alternative to refinancing for you to be on the note with your boyfriend. Good luck with the home and the relationship.

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