I make a lot more money than my partner. Should our domestic partnership agreement cover who is entitled to my income and the items we purchase with it?

Absolutely. Although each person starts out owning all of his or her job-related income, many states allow this to be changed by an oral contract or even by a contract implied from the circumstances of how you live. Not spelling this critical issue out often leads to misunderstandings during a breakup. For example, without a written agreement that states whether income will be shared or kept separate, one partner might falsely claim the other promised to split his income 50-50. Although they probably wouldn"t win in court, the very fact that a lawsuit can be brought creates a huge problem. For obvious reasons, the need to cover this issue is especially important if a person with a big income is living with and supporting someone with little or no income.

Here's an example: Jan and Shelly plan to buy a fixer-upper house for their first home. Jan is a carpenter; Shelly is a teacher who makes nearly twice as much as Jan. Jan and Shelly plan to own the home equally, so they put the following in their agreement: Shelly will pay two-thirds of the mortgage, and Jan will pay one-third. Shelly and Jan will equally pay for materials to fix up the house, and Jan will provide all the labor. Shelly and Jan also agree to equally own all the property, furniture and fixtures they buy once they move in together.