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A Hidden Cost to the Living Apart Together Lifestyle

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Living apart together as a committed but unmarried couple is an emerging trend in the US. It may suit both of you emotionally, but it can be expensive. Here are the potential pitfalls—and what to do about them.

It’s not just the obvious cost of maintaining two residences. A key cost reducer that you may be giving up: domestic partner benefits.

Many employers let their employees’ “domestic partners”—long-term partners they live with but aren’t married to—join their group health and dental insurance plans. Some also offer disability insurance as well as discounts on long-term-care insurance and tuition assistance that extends to domestic partners. Plus, some cities and counties extend spousal privileges to domestic partners. Example: In San Francisco you can transfer real estate to a domestic partner without incurring the city transfer tax.

But…you’re almost always required to live together to get any of the above partner benefits. Warning: Couples who falsely state that they live together on an insurance claim can be denied coverage for that claim—and even be prosecuted for fraud.

One option is for partners to treat one home as a joint permanent residence in several aspects—but still keep both homes. You’ll both want to get your mail at the joint home, register your cars at that address, etc. However, there are no standardized rules for this—including how often you’d have to physically be at the home—so it’s still possible you’d be denied domestic partner benefits.

Another solution, of course, is to get married. You can remain an LAT couple living in separate homes—if you’re married, you don’t have to live in the same house or even city or state to qualify for spousal benefits.

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Source: Frederick C. Hertz is an attorney with offices in Oakland and San Francisco whose practice deals often with cohabitation agreements. He is the co-author of Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples. FrederickHertz.com Date: December 1, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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