In general, married couples tend to have more rights and benefits than couples who are not married. Without a marriage certificate, couples often have no rights when it comes to legal, medical or financial decisions for the other party. Even if you live together for decades and consider, you won’t be automatically considered husband and wife for legal purposes unless you take certain actions to protect your rights beforehand. Should one of you die, assets are left to the person’s parents and siblings.
However, this does not mean that you have to get married against your wishes just to get the protection you desire. Colorado allows you to enter a common law marriage without actually getting married. If you and your partner present yourselves as husband and wife, your relationship may be recognized as a marriage to some degree. To fully protect your legal rights, though, you need to be proactive and take advantage of the legal documents available to you.
Rights of Unmarried Couples
In the event that something happens to you or your partner, you’ll want to take the appropriate steps to make sure you are both protected. Otherwise, a breakup or death could leave either party without the property they were hoping to receive.
One thing you might want to consider is a cohabitation agreement. This outlines who pays for what expenses and what will happen to expenses or property should you break up. This agreement will also outline who will move out and what will happen to the home you live in. Unmarried couples have a disadvantage because they don’t have divorce court to protect their assets like married couples do.
If you are unmarried, it’s important to have a will in place. If you were to die without one, state law would give your assets to your blood relatives—namely, any children, parents or siblings. Your partner would receive nothing. With a will in place, though, you can designate where your assets will go upon your death.
Rights of Unmarried Couples With Children
When a couple has children and decides to break up, the mother has the advantage. In some cases, courts will rule in favor of the mother when it comes to custody issues; however, this is not always the case.
When a couple is married, it is automatically assumed that the husband is the father. This is not the case with unmarried couples. An unmarried father must establish paternity by adding his name to the child’s birth certificate and signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit. Once paternity is established, the father will be able to seek custody of the child. Of course, in turn, he may also be forced to pay child support.
Seek Advice from an Experienced Aurora Divorce Attorney
To some, marriage is just a piece of paper, but it offers so many rights and benefits. If you do decide to live together as a couple without marriage, make sure you understand your rights should you decide to split up or if a partner dies. The Aurora divorce attorneys at Divorce Matters can advise you on how you can protect yourself during the course of your relationship. To schedule a consultation, contact us at (720) 408-7469.