Separating Assets When You Are Not Married

How Do Non-Married Couples Separate Their Assets?

The concept of marriage is not as popular as it once was. Marriage has been on the decline over the last quarter century, while cohabitation of unmarried couples is on a rapid rise, even in the last few years. According to the Pew Research Center, 18 million Americans were living with an unmarried partner in 2016, which is 29 percent more than in 2007. For unmarried couples who have lived together for a long period of time, it can become quite complicated, in terms of asset division, when they decide to split up.

Most Property Remains Personal Property in Unmarried Relationships

When dividing a married couple’s assets, there are two categories of property: personal property and marital property. Anything acquired before the marriage is considered the personal property of either party, while just about everything acquired during the marriage is considered to be marital property–property that needs to be divided fairly. The same cannot always be said for unmarried couples. Much of the property acquired may remain personal property, except for when there is evidence that both parties chipped in to purchase an item. In this case, that property is said to be owned jointly.

How is a Home Divided When an Unmarried Couple Breaks Up?

According to a Coldwell Banker study, in 2013 one in four millennial couples (18 to 34-year-olds) purchased a home together before they were married. What happens when the couple owns a house together, or it is only owned by one party but the other party paid half the mortgage? Take, for example, when an unmarried couple buys a condominium together. If both names are on the title, it is said to be owned jointly, and it needs to be divided fairly. However, even if only one party’s name is on the title, the other party can still make a claim that there was a common intention that the condominium was shared property, and the property may need to be divided down the middle if that other party whose name was not on the title made mortgage payments, put a down payment on the condominium, performed extensive upkeep and repairs, etc.

A San Francisco Family Law Attorney Can Help

Often, a family law attorney is necessary to ensure that one party does not walk away with an unfair share of property. For legal advice, call the San Francisco law offices of Lvovich & Szucsko, P.C. today to set up a consultation at no cost.