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For Married Couples, Living Apart May Pay Off

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Married couples are living apart now more than ever, and many spouses claim the two-roof strategy not only keeps their marriage fresh but their wallets flush.

Aside from two residences giving each partner the space he or she needs, possible legal binds like joint mortgages or joint tenancy of a large property can make simply paying rent an alluring avenue, reports The New York Times.

Given all the legal benefits of marriage, does living apart make sense?

Keeping Rent-Controlled Apartments

Real estate is one reason many married couples are living apart. Rent control laws are in place in many of the nation's urban centers, and cities like NYC have successfully stood behind these laws even in court.

So if your home city has given tenants the right to be in a beautiful apartment for an astronomically low rent, you and your spouse may consider living apart... together, so you can both keep your rent-controlled apartments.

Tenants often go to great lengths to secure these rent-controlled leases. According to the Times, many couples "fear the long-term expense [of giving up their apartments] if the relationship doesn't work out."

Add that fear to an uncertain housing market -- especially in any big city -- and you have a recipe for instability, one that an increasing number of couples will attempt to avoid by splitting their residences.

Joint Tenancies

For many married or unmarried couples living together, joint tenancies provide security that one partner will have full ownership of the property if and when the other partner passes on.

However, assuming that both partners are alive and there is a disagreement about selling the property, there can be trouble. Since both parties in a joint tenancy own a half interest in the whole property, a stubborn partner can choose to stonewall a real estate sale absent a court order.

For married couples who may have moved into one spouse's existing home, this formerly separate property can transform into marital property as the married couple continues to live in and maintain the home.

Even in a community property state, a potential divorce may be much cleaner if both spouses maintain their own residences, potentially leaving very little to split up.

There may be some lingering social stigma about married couples taking separate homes, but the legal and financial benefits might just make it worthwhile.

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