Property Rights for Unmarried Couples

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsIt is easier for unmarried couples to separate or breakup mutually rather than go through a divorce. If both the parties can agree on the division of their assets, there is no need to approach a court of law. At most, you may need to employ the professional help of a legal mediator.

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement and have to go through a divorce procedure, here are some of the legal rules pertaining to property division that you need to be aware of:

  • Divorce laws governing married couples are not applicable to unmarried couples who are separating – Only those couples recognized under a legal marriage or registered as domestic partners get to divide their property following the family law available to married couples.
  • Each unmarried partner has right to their own property – If the unmarried partners have not signed a deed establishing joint ownership of the house or do not have joint accounts in the banks, each partner is the owner of their own property. All debts and assets remain with the original owner unless the partners have signed any agreement.
  • Partners have signed a written agreement – If written agreements have been signed, the partners will get shares as stated in the agreement even if they approach a court for a separation.
  • If everything is jointly owned – If the unmarried couple jointly own any property or assets or debts, everything gets divided 50 -50. An exception can be made if an agreement stating otherwise has been signed.

If a situation arises where you have to approach the court for a settlement on matters related to property, it would be considered similar to the dissolution of a business. The ordinary business section of the state’s civil court will settle the matter.

To avoid such confusing and difficult situations related to unmarried separation, unmarried partners are encouraged to prepare and sign a written ‘living together agreement’. The agreement should cover matters related to property, house, and other assets.

Written agreements are legally enforceable in all courts of law. A written document can, in most instances, do away with the need of going to the court. It makes the separation a lot less difficult.     

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Legal Rights of Unmarried Couples Living Together

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

mediator divorce orange county; California Divorce MediatorsMore and more couples are living together in long term committed relationships without getting married. Such partnerships or relationships fall under the category of cohabitation. The legal rights of unmarried couples living together are very different from those of married couples.

Given below are the rights of cohabiting couples:

Rules related to finances

In the eyes of the law, two unmarried people are two separate individuals. So bank accounts, savings, and investments will not be jointly owned. It would remain in the ownership of the named individual. Anything held jointly will be divided equally unless there is a legally recognized agreement signed by the couple.

Unlike spousal maintenance, the partners are not entitled to any kind of financial support. But if there is a child from this relationship, the partner is entitled to child support.

Rules related to child issues

If unmarried couples living together separate, there will be different laws for the custody of the children resulting from this cohabitation. Both parents have equal rights over their children. But it needs to be decided who the children are going to stay with and what the visitation rights would be.

The unmarried couple may voluntarily sign a written agreement or notarized separation agreement stating the rights regarding the custody of the children, visitation and other rights. The agreement will then become the basis of all decisions made regarding the custody of children.

Rules related to property

If an unmarried couple owns a house together, the property will get divided equally between the two partners on separation. One person usually buys out the other’s share of the property. If there is an outstanding mortgage, the partner pays for that too. If this is not possible, the property is sold and then the share of each person is calculated.

If the property is in the name of an individual, the person in whose name the property is retains full ownership. A complication may arise if the person who is not a registered owner has made financial contributions towards the property. If that partner has made payments towards the mortgage, paid for repairs and other improvements, that partner can claim part ownership in the property. You will then have to approach a court of law.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Same-Sex Divorce Laws in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

same sex divorce; California Divorce MediatorsSame-sex marriages like hetero-sexual marriage have the potential to head for a divorce. The divorce laws differ from state to state and the laws in the State of California is much more relaxed. In California, you don’t have to give reasons for a divorce. If you feel you need a divorce from your partner you can get one without showing any proof of why you need one. In California, it is all about giving a chance to both you and your partner to lead separate lives.

Like in any other marriage, same-sex marriages also have certain considerations. If you and your partner are heading for one, read through the following points to gain a better understanding of things you need to consider.

  1. Dissolving domestic partnerships

In California, domestic partnerships are viewed as marriages. If you plan to divorce your partner, you must end your domestic partnership as well. Only after you have done this will the state declare you single and eligible for re-marriage. This is one important difference between a hetero-sexual marriage and a same-sex marriage.

  1. Residency requirements

If you and your partner are getting a divorce in California but belong from a different state, then there’s lot to cheer about. In California, you don’t need to be a resident of the state to get a divorce. In other states, usually, you need to provide residency proof of at least 6 months before you can head for a divorce.

  1. Custody rights

Custody rights are a big issue in America. The U.S. Justice Department take it very seriously and same-sex couples face the same issue. If you can resolve the issue amicably with your partner, then things become much easier. But if you can’t then the state courts will take weigh every information about the child and then come to a conclusion. Custody battles can be tough and it’s one of the reasons why divorces become difficult.

  1. Dividing assets

Assets are divided based on who owns what. Most times, this can be difficult due t the length of marriage. Again, if you and your partner can decide on which asset belongs to whom, it becomes easy. But in case you can’t decide then the court looks at the duration of marriage and then comes to a conclusion. But mind you, Marriage and living together is not the same thing. It all depends on how the court views your marriage.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation