The decision to move in with a partner is a big step in a relationship, both personally and financially. In planning for this move, it’s important to consider the different areas of your lifestyle that are likely to change including financial matters.

What's your partner's money style?

Living with your partner means adapting to another person’s money style, which may be different to your own. This includes spending and savings habits, attitudes towards financial responsibilities and your different incomes and expenses.

Before you move in, make time to discuss your current financial status, needs and expectations. This may also mean sharing your savings, debts or future financial goals and obligations.

Don’t worry, it’s not a competition and by sharing this information early you can prevent issues cropping up further into your relationship.

How will you share financial responsibilities?

Discuss with your partner how regular expenses will be shared and consider drawing up a budget together. Agree who will take on specific financial responsibilities in the household and what will be shared. Often couples living together choose to open a joint bank account or credit card for the purposes of paying shared expenses. If you intend doing this, then set limits and ensure the ground rules (such as paying a joint credit card off in full every month) are agreed.

Risks to consider

Under Australian law, couples in a de facto relationship have mostly the same rights as married couples if the relationship ends. That means these couples may have the right to make claims for property, spousal maintenance and even super if they separate. A couple may be considered de facto if they have lived together domestically, even where one partner is still legally married to someone else or only lives with their partner some of the time. These are important points that should be taken into consideration as they represent possible risks to the assets you bring into the relationship or assets you accumulate while you’re together.

Protect yourself

There are things you can do to protect your assets in a relationship. Some couples enter into binding agreements – legal documents like pre-nuptial agreements, which set out how their property and assets are to be divided if the relationship ends. This is a specialist area, so good legal advice is vital.

Moving in with a partner is an exciting time for your relationship. However, taking time to address the financial realities will provide clarity and security for both you and your partner. While we all want the best outcome, sometimes relationships end, so it’s important to have a plan in place in case that happens.

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