The term “separation” is often used synonymously with the idea of divorce, when a married couple chooses to end their relationship. However, the word separation can actually refer to the ending of a relationship, even if the pair were never married. Thinking of the concept of a breakup may not seem so complex or far-fetched.
You may wonder why two partners going their separate ways could cause a need for legal intervention, especially if there was no legal tie through marriage. Depending on the type and length of your long term relationship, otherwise known as a domestic partnership , assets may have been acquired over time that should be properly divided. These jointly obtained items could include financial investments such as joint bank accounts, vehicles, property and real estate, and of course children! As unmarried cohabitants outside of a recognized common law marriage, you still have rights regarding your wishes on division of assets.
Many states provide similar protections for the desires of unmarried couples under a cohabitation agreement that choose to part ways, or even outline the rights of a surviving partner to an unmarried cohabitant who has passed away. In order to serve the needs of couples in this scenario, the cohabitation laws are changing in Michigan regarding property and parenting rights for people involved in unmarried domestic relationships.
At its core, the cohabitation agreement of Michigan centers their guidance around prioritizing the best interests for all parties involved, especially if children are involved in the matter. Michigan cohabitation laws, through their clear decisions about custody and parenting rights, are beginning to acknowledge that children benefit when both parents remain involved in their lives regardless of what their relationship to each other romantically was in the past, or will be going forward.
In other cases when children are not involved in the separation of two unmarried people though, the desire to analyze each parties rights, and contributions to the relationship, are still an important factor in determining what an equitable division will look like, that services both parties based on their needs and what they are owed in response.
For example, in issues involving property rights for unmarried couples, joint assets and debt accumulated over the duration of the relationship often become indistinguishable from individual property. Even when marriage is not a part of the equation, cohabitating relationships can last for years and even decades. Lines begin to blur over time, as relationships began to deepen and trust begins to form.
With that being said, fair valuation and division of property have become major issues for unmarried couples going through separation after long periods of cohabitation, and sharing financial responsibilities or access to other assets.
When relationships end amicably, separating can go smoothly with a genuine desire to compromise. However, when a relationship ends on not the best of terms, emotions tend to take over. Sometimes, greed and anger can cause disputes over property and finances that provide too much of a burden to resolve independently.
Making sure you protect your financial interests is key in property disputes with an ex-partner, especially when you and your partner have been cohabitating. By contacting an experienced family law attorney, you can ensure that your rights and options as a cohabitating individual are fully understood.
The most complex property issues for cohabitating and unmarried couples typically involve joint ownership of large financial purchases, such as a house or car. We have experience determining fair financial treatment of assets and we find creative, intelligent solutions that will work for you and be acceptable to the courts, should the matter go to litigation.