While no one wants a relationship failure, the fact is that it happens. If you have entered into joint ownership of real estate or a joint living arrangement with a partner, the economic fallout from a break up may be financially damaging.  While we can’t help with the emotional part, we can help you plan for such an event regarding your property. For unmarried couples, written agreements drafted while the relationship is still positive can provide for an orderly “uncoupling” that will be fair to both parties.

Such a written agreement can memorialize who contributed to the initial investment, by cash or credit, and in what amount.  It can set out how operating expenses, improvements, repairs and maintenance will be paid. It can provide a formula for payment, credits or reimbursements between the parties. This part of the agreement can avoid future disagreement as to what the parties intended when the property was initially purchased.

Next, the agreement can set out the exact steps for sale of the property in the event that one or both partners wish to sell. The agreement can define the terms for purchase by one of the owners or a third party, how the value of property should be determined and the division of sale proceeds. If the agreement does not fully resolve disputed issues, it can provide for mediation or arbitration before an action is brought in court.

Without marriage or a written agreement, if parties disagree as to the disposition of real estate, a Petition to Partition may need to be filed in court, a proceeding not covered under our legal service plan.  A judge will then decide how to divide the property or proceeds. In addition, both parties will bear the cost of a court-appointed commissioner to oversee the sale. The partition process can be both expensive and prolonged.

Let Massachusetts Laborers Legal Services protect you by preparing an agreement that will help should an unwelcome breakup occur in the future.