How Are Assets Divided Between Cohabiting Couples

What happens to shared property and assets when an unmarried couple separates?

In recent years, we have seen an increase in cases where unmarried couples live together and acquire some sort of asset, whether it be a new home, large appliances or a car. When the couple separates, there are no laws to guide an equitable distribution of those assets.

For example, one partner may have their name on the deed to a home, and the other may have taken out a line of credit to make improvements to that home. Upon separation, one partner walks away with the debt for those improvements, whereas the other partner gets the benefit of those improvements.

Other examples include the acquisition of some other asset, such as a vehicle, furniture or large appliances which were purchased using personal credit. When an unmarried couple separates, one may keep the asset while the other must continue to pay on the loan associated with that asset.

Anyone can tell you that this does not sound fair. However, the problem cannot be resolved under traditional family law. Most family lawyers would typically shy away from this type of case, but a lawyer who has approached these situations in the past may be able to obtain a more favorable, fair resolution.

As our office has encountered more of these situations, I am increasingly of the opinion that there are legal remedies available for these types of cases which are a hybrid between a family law case and a civil litigation case. There may be a cause of action for breach of contract, a partnership dissolution or something else of that sort depending on the specifics of the situation. As a result there are things that can be done to ensure a more fair and just division of the assets of the relationship.

With that in mind, I would encourage anybody who has or is facing these types of problems to contact our office at 972-937-1616. We have handled these types of cases before and are willing to address the complex issues that these situations present.

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