Legal Advice

Legal Considerations for Unmarried Couples

The legal implications of parting ways with a former partner will differ depending on whether the couple is married or not. Legal protections offered under the law generally extend to married couples who divorce, granting the parties certain rights with regard to property division, spousal support, and other important areas of their lives.

In contrast, unmarried couples are generally not afforded the same rights as their married counterparts often making the end of their relationship additionally stressful or complicated. However, there are measures cohabiting couples can put in place to ensure their respective rights and interests are protected in the event of a breakup.

In this article, we will explore some of the factors that can favor unmarried couples, as well as strategies they can employ to give them greater assurance should they decide to go their separate ways.

Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is a legal concept that recognizes a couple as legally married despite the absence of any official ceremony or marriage license. For a couple to be deemed as married under common law, certain aspects of their relationship must be present, such as continuous cohabitation over a period of time, and presenting themselves to the world as husband and wife.

If the state recognizes the couple as common law partners, they may be granted certain rights regarding any property, finances, and parental rights, similar to married couples. This could mean that breaking up when you own a house together, sharing custody of any children, or any other matters that concern both parties are given the same treatment under the law as a married couple facing a breakup. While common law marriages have been abolished by most states, Iowa, Montana, Texas, and Colorado are a few of the remaining states that still recognize this practice. 

Cohabitation Agreement

For couples living in states that do not recognize common law marriage, it is additionally important to take measures to protect themselves should their relationship end. It is advisable for unmarried couples to create a cohabitation agreement that outlines important issues such as their shared and separate assets and liabilities, as well as spousal arrangements and child custody rights in the event of a breakup. 

By agreeing on these matters, unmarried couples will have greater clarity as to their rights and responsibilities during a breakup and increase the chances of their relationship ending with fewer misunderstandings or conflicts.

Power of Attorney

Unlike legally married couples, unmarried ones are generally not afforded the same rights to make decisions on their partner’s behalf. This can be particularly disadvantageous in certain situations such as those relating to health and financial matters. For instance, an individual may lack legal authority to give consent for certain medical procedures on behalf of their partner if they are unmarried.

To avoid these issues, unmarried couples may benefit from giving each other the authority to make decisions on their behalf regarding health, finances, business, and other matters. This can be done by creating a Power of Attorney (POA) document which grants partners the legal authority to act on each other’s behalf in specified situations.

By following the guidance outlined, couples can safeguard themselves during a breakup, giving them the reassurance they need at a potentially challenging time.

Shafiq Ch

Shafiq Ch is SEO service provider and writer at NCVLE (New Citizens Viability Law Enforcement). He discusses SEO, guest posts, backlinks, and on-page content issues. He is helping lawyers to rank their sites on the top pages of SERPs.

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