Dear Penny: Can My Boyfriend Sue Me for His Big Sacrifice if We Break up?
I am going to be starting nursing school in January 2022 and have a question about potential future obligations to my boyfriend. He has offered to drive me to all of my school obligations until my license is restored in May 2022. My alternative would be to pay for a ride-share which could cost $2,000 or more per month.
This is obviously very generous and I am deeply appreciative. He will be making large sacrifices of his time to help me with this.
Our relationship is great, and I don’t see that changing. We’ve even talked about getting married, but that would not happen until after nursing school. (We both graduate at almost the same time.)
I know that pre-written agreements in a marriage can be helpful in situations like this in case of separation. I’m trying to be responsible not knowing the future. If he and I do break up, would I have any legal responsibility to compensate him for his help? If so, is there an agreement we can make beforehand to avoid that unlikely scenario?
-Nervous Nursing Student
It’s impossible to plan for every nightmare scenario that could occur during a breakup. I think you’re on pretty safe turf accepting your boyfriend’s generosity, though.
Typically, couples need a written agreement when significant assets or debt is involved. For unmarried couples buying a house together, for example, a legally binding agreement is a must. You’d want a domestic partnership agreement that spells out who would get to stay in the home and how you’d manage any related debts if you broke up. But unless your boyfriend has asked you to sign a contract spelling out his compensation for being your chauffeur, it would be tough for him to sue you for his services in the event that the two of you split.
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What I’d worry more about is the toll that this arrangement will take on your relationship. It sounds like you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the car together if paying for ride-shares would cost you $2,000 a month. That may sound peachy right now. But it may be a different story after a couple of months, particularly if you’re both exhausted from studying.
In deciding whether to accept this offer from your boyfriend, think about what it will cost him not just in terms of money, but also time. If he wouldn’t be going that far out of his way, riding along with him seems like a no-brainer. But if he’d be spending a couple hours each day driving you around while trying to complete his own studies, relying on him for 100% of your transportation needs probably won’t be a great option.
Fortunately, this doesn’t seem like an all-or-nothing decision. You can accept your boyfriend’s offer, but also set aside some money so you can give him a break when he needs it.
Instead of budgeting $2,000 a month for ride-sharing, maybe you can set aside several hundred dollars a month. You can use that money to pay for an Uber or stay in a motel that’s close to your campus from time to time. Once you start school, you might also want to ask around to see if any classmates live near you. Perhaps they’d be willing to let you hitch a ride in exchange for gas money. Regardless, be sure to throw some gas money your boyfriend’s way.
Your boyfriend sounds like a good guy, given his willingness to sacrifice for you. It also sounds like you’re appropriately grateful to him. Whenever possible, try to show that gratitude by freeing up his time in other ways. For example, you could cook for him or do extra household chores if you live together.
This situation may be tough, but it’s only temporary. But if you communicate clearly and find alternative options so your boyfriend can prioritize his needs when he’s short on time, I think you’ll be able to make this work.
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