Living Together Outside of Marriage: Legal Pitfalls That You May Face When You Separate
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a 30 percent increase over the last decade in the number of couples who choose to simply live together rather than getting married. A recent Forbes article reports that 8.3 million unmarried couples lived together in 2015. While it doesn’t sound very romantic to prepare for a split before you have even moved in together, there are some legal issues that you should address and prepare for in the event that you separate in the future.
Consider How You Will Handle Finances
While some unmarried couples choose to keep their finances and bank accounts completely separate, it is not unusual for couples to establish a joint account, particularly for household expenses that they share. From a legal perspective, if you should separate in the future, it is not so easy to resolve a dispute about which of you owns the funds in a joint account. While couples going through divorce proceedings have the benefit of divorce laws to guide the division of their bank accounts and joint items of property, an unmarried couple, even if they lived together for years, has no such legal protections. An individual can drain the proceeds of a joint bank account and be well within his or her rights to do so. As a result, you may leave a relationship without your fair share of any joint assets.
Purchasing a Home Together May Not Be Wise
Suppose that you and your partner want to purchase a home together, but your credit score is rather subpar. If your partner purchases the home and the deed is solely in his or her name, you will have no legal right to that home should your partner die or you separate. Similarly, if you move into a home that your partner already owns, you will have no legal rights to it, even if you financially contribute to it by making mortgage payments or pay for improvements to the home. Even if you make substantial financial contributions to the home, it will be extremely difficult to recoup those contributions, particularly without the benefit of divorce laws to protect you. One remedy might be for your partner to transfer the deed to both of you jointly, or to enter into a partnership agreement that spells out exactly what you will receive should you separate in the future. Likewise, executing a will that leaves you the home or other items of property can protect you and your financial contributions in the event of your partner’s untimely death.
Consult a Florida Family Law Attorney Today
As more and more couples choose to cohabitate without marrying, the legal consequences for doing so can become increasingly complex, particularly during a lengthy relationship. From dividing mutually-acquired property to establishing timesharing schedules for your children, couples need to be aware of their legal options and rights following a separation from an unmarried partner. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, today, and schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer, who can give you the legal guidance and advice that you need during a difficult situation.