*Living together outside of marriage, once associated primarily with Hollywood celebrities and libertines, has become so common that if you tell your parents you’re moving in with your significant other, they’ll probably roll their eyes and ask you to pass the peas.

The number of opposite-sex couples living together jumped 13 percent this year to 7.5 million, according to the Census Bureau. Demographers blame the sluggish job market, which has forced many young adults to share living quarters. Broader societal issues are also at work. Researchers estimate that more than half of married couples live together before they get married. Only 38 percent of Americans believe that unmarried couples living together is bad for society; half said it doesn’t make much difference, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Young adults – along with older adults who have been previously married – may view living together as a way to avoid the hassles often associated with the end of a marriage. But if you and your partner share property, a breakup could be even messier than a dish-throwing divorce. “The biggest financial issue that unmarried couples face is the issue of yours, mine or ours,” says Frederick Hertz, an Oakland attorney and author of Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples. “Marriage is a system that organizes that landscape for you. If you had it before, it’s yours. If you earned it while we’re together, it’s ours. With unmarried couples, it’s all up in the air.”

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