When you live with another individual as a couple, but you never get married, it can be difficult to divide your assets in the event of a breakup. The laws that apply to married couples in a divorce as they separate property do not pertain to unmarried couples unless the couple lives in one of the few states that has common law marriage or domestic partnerships. When two people aren't married, any property in each person's name and any debt that one has is the separate property of that individual. It doesn't matter if the debt or assets were accumulated during the time the couple was living together.
When a Joint Bank Account Is Opened
A joint bank account, or buying a house together is a deliberate attempt to combine assets. In this case, the joint bank account and the house are considered assets of both parties, regardless of whether they are married or not. These assets are divided in half, and it is up to both parties to create a plan that is fair to one another or the matter can be brought to court.
Problems can occur when one party can prove they that contributed a much great percentage to the acquisition of a home or to a bank account. If one person put in 90% of the funds for a home, for example, they may be entitled to more of the proceeds if the home is sold. Unlike a married couple, where assets accrued during the marriage are considered marital property, assets acquired while two people are living together as a couple are not automatically considered joint property.
Why You Need a Palimony Lawyer
Breaking up as an unmarried couple when the assets are complicated usually requires the help of a palimony lawyer. Your case doesn't go to probate court like a divorce, but is instead more like business partnership that is breaking up. The rules governing property can be confusing, and an experienced attorney who knows how to get you what you deserve is essential.
You Can't Get Alimony After Separating Either
The only way you would be able to receive alimony payments if you are an unmarried couple that is now separating is if you had drawn up a written agreement that agreed to support after a separation. It doesn't matter if one partner was financially dependent on the other, like it does when two people are married.
When you have children together and both of you are the legal parents, you can work out your own custody agreement without having to bring your agreement into the court. If the two of you begin fighting over custody, visitation rights, or who owes child support, this is the one area of the law where you will be treated like a married couple. If one parent isn't the legal parent, they have no rights to visitation, but they also have no obligation to support the children. Contact a firm like The Law Office of Cary W. Goldstein, Esq., PC to learn more.