It is no longer a social prerequisite for people to marry before jointly purchasing a home. In fact, many couples are abandoning the idea of marriage altogether and setting up housekeeping as two single people committed to each other without a legal sanction. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to home ownership in marriage or as individuals.
For example, when you are married the way that the mortgage is handled affects both people whether you are the breadwinner, a stay-at-home parent, a financial contributor or in charge of child rearing. That means that if the mortgage is paid on time then both signers enjoy a boon to their credit rating. Conversely, if the mortgage is behind, payments are late or only partial or the house goes into foreclosure then this adversely affects both people - whether or not you feel fiscally responsible for the burden or not.
This is further complicated if the marriage falls apart. Then the financial responsibility for the home becomes problematic, as does the equity if the home is sold. Marriage is not a guarantee for a lifetime anymore and the same is true for the ownership of the home - no matter who signed for the mortgage. Too, if one spouse walks away from the marriage and chooses not to continue to make payments then the other partner may be held responsible for the financial burden.
Of course, the situation is similar if the individuals are not married either. At any time one may walk away from the mortgage leaving the other to with the financial burden of keeping up the payments. Whether you are in a marriage and it falls apart or if a couple that is unmarried breaks up - when property is involved it will usually require a legal referee or attorney to help divide the assets and the home is usually the largest of these.
It is smart to have discussions about the home purchase, payment responsibility and other considerations prior to signing the mortgage. While it may seem like an unpleasant or fortuitous conversation, it is actually the adult thing to do. Just like funeral planning - it is better to have a contingency plan for the unwelcome that is decided when heads are cool and does not become an issue in the heat of a moment.
In fact, all matters regarding money should not be ignored or shuffled off to the side to be discussed at a later time. When it comes to home ownership - there is no time like the present for any conversation that relates to the purchase, payment and/or sale of the property.