Ask Paul: Our house is in my fiance's name but I want to help pay his mortgage
Q. My fiance and I have had many discussions on how to manage our money when married.
We live together and put the same amount into a joint account each week for food, etc, and we each have our own accounts for "fun purchases".
He is 38, earns $300,000 and is paying a mortgage on a property in Sydney worth about $1.7 million.
I am 33, earn $100,000 (about to drop to $83,000), have no assets, am rent free and debt free.
Currently I pay him $200 a month for bills. I feel it is unfair that people in his position, who have worked hard and earnt valuable assets, risk losing 50% of the assets accumulated before marriage.
Once married, I want to contribute $70,000 of savings plus $1000 a month to help pay down the mortgage in his name - is this legally or financially wise?
Or would we be better off buying an investment property in both our names? - Jess
A. Interesting question! I really like your feisty attitude in wanting your fiance to benefit from his high income, but I think you need to be pragmatic.
Half of all marriages end in divorce and it is rarely a pleasant event.
I am relaxed about whether you buy an investment property together or you "merge" finances, but I really do think you need to document whichever way you go.
If you were to break up before children came along, it is likely that a split of assets would be based on what you both put in.
Once kids arrive, it is quite different. A prenuptial agreement may protect your assets, but I have seen these cast aside, in particular when kids are involved.
Putting $70,000 of savings and $1000 a month into an asset in another person's name without clear documentation would make me feel very uncomfortable.
I really hope that, like Vicki and I, you have many decades living happily together - but, whatever you do, get it documented.