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Unmarried couples dividing shared property

As readers of this blog know, getting divorced is rarely easy. Complicated family law issues often arise, leaving individuals fighting over money, property, and even their children. Yet, the struggle regarding these matters is not relevant to just those facing marriage dissolution. Even those who were in an unmarried relationship can find themselves squabbling over property. This situation is becoming more and more common as more younger couples are putting off marriage.

For some unmarried Louisianans, it just makes sense to purchase a home with their significant others before tying the knot. A couple may not believe in marriage, or they may obtain other financial advantages by remaining unmarried. When these couples purchase homes they enter into either a joint tenancy or a tenancy-in-common.

What's the difference? In a joint tenancy, the entire property is equally owned by each individual, whereas a tenancy-in-common provides each individual with a distinctive share. When it comes to property division in a breakup, either situation should lead to an equal division of the home's value. That being said, an argument may arise when the home is in one individual's name. Here, the house may revert to that individual upon a breakup unless the other person can prove that he or she contributed to the mortgage, maintenance, and/or the purchase price.

So what can unmarried individuals do to protect themselves in the event of a soured relationship? The best thing to do is enter into a cohabitation agreement. Here, the couple can spell out which property belongs to which individual and how property will be divided in the event of a breakup. This agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement. To learn more about these agreements and how they may prove beneficial to your circumstances, consider speaking with a qualified legal professional.

Source: FindLaw, "Unmarried Couples and Property - Basics," accessed on April 29, 2017

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