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Legal document to cover my butt?

StrifeRaZoRStrifeRaZoR Registered User regular
edited March 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
Alright, here's the long version of the story (in spoilers, of course):
So about 6 months ago I moved down to the southern tip of Texas with my (then girlfriend/fiancee) roommate. Her dad passed away and left her a house, a boat, and a bunch of other stuff, so she decided to keep everything in working order by moving down here. I tagged along against my better judgement, so here I am. When we first arrived here, we were living off of insurance money in her bank account, and we both knew we needed jobs ASAP. After a few months I found a job making just above minimum wage, and then she eventually found a job doing something she loves (she's a chef). With both of us bringing in money and the house already paid off, we were pretty much set to live comfortably until we decided to do something different. About 3 weeks ago we decided that me going in to work in every Wednesday and picking up the old fashioned paper check was getting bland, so we added my information to her bank account. I got my own debit card and checks, etc.. but we share the account. So here's where the issue lies. Our relationship has pretty much died off in terms of being 'together'. She just tells everyone I'm her roommate, so I guess there's no use trying to salvage this thing. I told her that I would do the whole 'roommate' thing as long as it was official. I pay half the bills plus a little extra since I use her car to get to work. Is it possible for me to write up some sort of document that will hold itself in court (if it ever came to that situation) saying that we both agree on the split payments for expenses? I just want to make sure I can get out of this without too much of a hassle if she decides to go batshit insane on me.

Edit - Totally forgot to add this part. The reason I want this document is because ever since our money has been pooled into a shared bank account, I've noticed many charges that are quite large on our statement. I know it's her, and I've spoken to her about it. I will eventually break the account and get my own that is separate, but I just want to make sure that if I'm paying my half of things and we're somehow out of money for bills, that I'm totally covered if she wants to make a scene out of it.

TL;DR - Can I write up a legal document without the help of a lawyer that will hold up in court saying that both me and my roommate agree on split payments for expenses? If so, what details do I need and how should it be worded?

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StrifeRaZoR on

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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Trying to unwind the joint bank account stuff is going to be a headache if you were ever to liigate it and is often a primary point of contention in complex high net worth divorces.

    Open your own account immediately and stop depositing your money with her. It's not hard so I don't get why you are dithering on this.

    Your problem - the account sharing - has wider ranging problems than the document you propose as a solution, and at most drafting a bunch of agreements to cover those situatilns would let you try to enforce them against her after she hypothetically wipes out your joint bank account and stiffs you with the utilities.

    Better to get your name off any utility accounts you are on and then open a separate bank account.

    kaliyama on
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    StrifeRaZoRStrifeRaZoR Registered User regular
    Luckily, all of the utilities and bills are in her name, since she owns the property. I just give her money to pay for things. Until recently we haven't even mentioned the 50/50 split thing. I'm starting to realize that it will probably save my ass in the near future considering the way things are going. Once I open my own bank account, I would still like some extra protection when it comes to the money situation. She's not the best when it comes to bills and payments, so I'd like to ensure my own safety. Is it possible to write something up and have her sign it?

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    khainkhain Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    You need a rental agreement and you can find a template online. Some important points would be rent per month, length of the agreement, and responsibility/cost of utilities.

    The car sharing seems somewhat suspect and may actually not be legal dependent on her insurance plus there's the issue of what happens if you get into an accident. I may just be risk adverse, but if you can I would get your own transportation. Googling appears to reveal that there are car sharing agreements available online as well, though I don't know a whole lot about it.

    khain on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    How well a document holds up in court is going to heavily depend on how much your roommate is willing to fight you on it if you end up in court. That's really all there is to it. It'll give you good leverage for starting the conversation if you need to apply pressure for some reason, though.

    What is this I don't even.
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    GrouchGrouch Registered User regular
    Luckily, all of the utilities and bills are in her name, since she owns the property. I just give her money to pay for things. Until recently we haven't even mentioned the 50/50 split thing. I'm starting to realize that it will probably save my ass in the near future considering the way things are going. Once I open my own bank account, I would still like some extra protection when it comes to the money situation. She's not the best when it comes to bills and payments, so I'd like to ensure my own safety. Is it possible to write something up and have her sign it?

    I can't quite figure out what you want protection from "when it comes to the money situation". What are you afraid she might do?

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Take all his money and kick him out, from the looks of it.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    i would think she'd be the one who'd want the document, not you, if her name is on everything. especially if you are dumping money into a joint account, at least moneywise. She'll still have to give you a goodly amount of time to get out if she evicts you, as you are currently in an implied lease (or something, i forget the exact term). she can't just up and decide to put all your shit out on the curb and clean out the account. i mean, she can, but it wouldn't be legal.

    you're on the right track though, get your own account, and get a rental agreement. Just to be safe/smart.

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    GrouchGrouch Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    Take all his money and kick him out, from the looks of it.

    If that's the case, he should take his money and leave first.

    To me, it seems like the bigger worry might be that she'll take his share of the bills, and then not pay the bills, or pay them late, or something like that. If that's the worry, I don't think piling on additional legal obligations will help. She already has a legal obligation to pay the bills. If she has trouble respecting that, what makes him think she'll respect anything over and above it?

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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    i think he's afraid she will start saying he owes more than he is currently paying and should have been paying that higher amount this whole time, and take all his dough. or something along those lines.

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    StrifeRaZoRStrifeRaZoR Registered User regular
    i think he's afraid she will start saying he owes more than he is currently paying and should have been paying that higher amount this whole time, and take all his dough. or something along those lines.

    Basically that. If I'm paying my half of the bills and the power somehow gets cut off, I don't want her asking for more money because she couldn't keep up her end of the deal. If we're using a joint account (for now, but not for long) then she's using 'our' money for her own personal gains and not upholding her end of things. I realize that the document is really only needed while we have the joint account, but it would still be nice to have some sort of insurance if/when the time comes for me to provide proof that I've been doing my share.

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    You should stop using the joint account and ask for your name to be removed at the bank, TBH.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    GrouchGrouch Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    If her name is on the bills, and she doesn't pay them, and the power gets cut off, she can ask you for money, but you don't have to give it to her. A piece of paper won't stop her from asking for more money, if it comes to that.

    I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice, but it seems to me that you might be better off without any kind of documentation. If she goes after you for money out of court, you can tell her to fuck right off, simple as that. If she tries to take you to court, she has to prove that there's a valid contract between the two of you. It's much easier to do that if she has a piece of paper with your signature on it.

    Grouch on
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Grouch wrote: »
    If her name is on the bills, and she doesn't pay them, and the power gets cut off, she can ask you for money, but you don't have to give it to her. A piece of paper won't stop her from asking for more money, if it comes to that.

    I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice, but it seems to me that you might be better off without any kind of documentation. If she goes after you for money out of court, you can tell her to fuck right off, simple as that. If she tries to take you to court, she has to prove that there's a valid contract between the two of you. It's much easier to do that if she has a piece of paper with your signature on it.

    She can ask for more money, but she can't just take it. GTFO of the joint account, like first thing in the morning.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    wiltingwilting I had fun once and it was awful Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Separate finances, move out, and maybe go do something YOU want to do now the relationship has fizzled out.

    wilting on
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    DumpShockDumpShock Does everyone? Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Get your own account ASAP. Its just a common sense precaution.
    In Texas, a verbal contract is binding but the effectiveness of pursuing a breach of said contract is only as good as your will to fight it in small claims court. Do it yourself contracts are not hard, a decent guideline can be found here. The link doesn't mention it but it is a extremely good idea to sign the document in the presence of a notary public. This lends the document a legitimacy it would not otherwise have.

    Keep in mind. A contract is not a shield or any other type of protection. It only allows you a better than "he said, she said" chance of recovering any damages that are caused by a breach of contract. Actual recovery of damages depends entirely on the other persons ability to comply with a judgement in your favor.

    Hope this helps you some.

    DumpShock on
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    DirtmuncherDirtmuncher Registered User regular
    Like mentioned above: Get your own account!
    All your money that has gone into her account I would consider "lost" or spent. Because getting it back will cost more both emotionally and financially.
    And if you decide to break it off, then you want a clean break and not see her in court for the next 2 years over a few thousand dollars.

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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    it's not lost if he still has access to the account, as long as his money is still there anyways.

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    Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    If she isn't your girlfriend anymore why in the hell would you want to live in South Texas? There's nothing down there. I know... I go there occasionally for work. And only because we drill holes in the ground and out comes money. Otherwise, why would you stay in South Texas?

    Get your own account. I might discuss whatever net positive you think you'd have in the existing account, but I might also just consider that money a loss. This situation sounds strange and I must admit that I don't fully understand it or why you'd continue in your current arrangement for very long.

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