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Unmarried Couples' Rights

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, joint tenancy, cohabitation agreement,Over the past few decades, society has dramatically changed the way it views unmarried couples living together. What was once a taboo topic and referred to as “living in sin” is now not only accepted socially, but considered by many to be a pragmatic way to determine one's compatibility with his or her partner before marriage. Legally, unmarried individuals who live together are considered to be separate parties. This means that any assets either party owns, such as a retirement account or a piece of real estate, belongs solely to him or her regardless of the other party's contributions to the asset. In some states, unmarried couples who meet a specific set of requirements are considered to be in a common law marriage, which grants them certain rights regarding their shared property. Illinois outlawed common law marriages in 1905.

Unmarried Parents' Rights

If a child's parents are not married when he or she is born, the child's father must establish his paternity to gain the right to seek custody of the child. This is also necessary if either parent wants to seek child support from the other. A father can establish his paternity by signing a Voluntary Order of Paternity. Other options for establishing paternity include using an Order of Paternity from a judge or an Administrative Paternity Order, which is issued by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Child Support Services.

Once paternity is established, the court uses the same factors to determine the child's custody and support arrangements that it uses for divorced parents.

Property Division

When an unmarried couple chooses to buy a house together, they have two options for shared ownership: joint tenancy or tenants-in-common. Both of these options give both partners ownership of the house, protecting them and their investment in the event that the relationship ends.

With a tenants-in-common agreement, each partner has a designated share of the house's value. These shares do not have to be equal. For example, a couple might decide that one partner is entitled to 60 percent of the home's value and the other is entitled to 40 percent, based on their contributions to its purchase and upkeep. If one partner dies, his or her share of the property becomes part of his or her estate, not the other party's property.

In a joint tenancy agreement, both partners have an equal share of the home's value. If one partner dies, the other retains his or her share of the house.

If you are considering purchasing a house with your significant other, it is important that you understand the differences between these agreements and work with an attorney to draft an agreement that meets both of your needs. Your attorney can help you and your partner determine which type of agreement is best for you.

Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Kane County

If you have amassed shared assets with your partner and your relationship has recently ended, it is important to know how to protect what is legally yours. Contact Goostree Law Group to discuss your case with one of the experienced Kane County divorce attorneys at our firm. Although you are not going through a divorce, you are dismantling a partnership that has resulted in shared assets and in some cases, children. Know how Illinois' laws will affect your case before you go to court.
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