The classic concept of two people of the opposite sex forming a legal union is not going anywhere any time soon. Alternate options abound, however. If you and your partner are not ready to make the traditional choice, you might want to know about some other choices. The below unions, though different from a regular marriage, still not only deserve your attention, but may require you to take some additional steps to protect your financial interests. Read on to find out more.
Domestic Partnership Unions
In some states, you can be protected by some of the same laws that apply to those legally married. The number of states that recognize domestic partnerships, however, are few and far between. In all likelihood, the need for domestic partnership legislation sharply declined once same-sex marriage became legal everywhere. In the states that recognize it, members of domestic partnerships have rights like next-of-kin for those hospitalized and the ability to be covered by their partner's healthcare insurance plan.
If you and your partner don't care to be legally married and don't live in a domestic partnership state, you will need to take matters into your own hands to protect yourself when things go south. Living together is easy to do, but things can get tricky when ways must be parted. If you have minor children together, the law views custody, child support, and visitation just as if you were legally married. While you are free to separate and never lay eyes on each other again, you may need to procure court orders to deal with the above child-related issues. As far as financial issues go, you should consider planning ahead and creating a cohabitation agreement while you are still speaking to each other. This agreement sets out things like:
This very old way to form a relationship is no longer recognized in most states. In those that do recognize it, however, things are far from free and easy. Just living together is not enough for your relationship to be called common law – you must both agree about your status, and everyone you know must know about it. If you meet the qualifications, divorce is the only answer if you part ways. You cannot just leave each other and not divorce, even if you have no minor children. In most cases, a judge will need to sort things out if the couple disagrees on the marital status, who gets to keep the house, who should pay off that loan, and more. On the plus side, common law marriage affords couples the same rights as that of a traditional marriage.
Speak to a family law attorney to ensure that rights to property and finances are protected with the proper legal agreement and divorce.
I am a real estate attorney, and I have been helping clients buy and sell property for many years. Some clients do not realize their legal obligations and options when it comes to purchasing or selling a house or land. I hope that this blog will be a way for people to get information about legal issues in real estate and what they need to know when doing business. Buying and selling property can be complicated, and all parties involved have legal obligations. Know what is expected of you, and you will be able to get the best out of your real estate transactions.