In an unmarried property dispute, who wins?

Societal shifts are reflected in the growing number of couples who choose not to marry immediately, if at all. This trend appears to be in response to the overwhelming divorce rate of past decades, but is cohabitation really the answer? Oftentimes it can only make matters more complicated, especially when it comes to the ownership of property. Knowing the ins and outs of ownership in unmarried situations can help California couples avoid heated disputes in the long run. 

The American Bar Association outlines some common questions regarding unmarried couples and co-ownership disputes. One might suppose that unmarried couples would encounter less mess during a separation, but the ABA notes that this is not always the case. Although unmarried couples face similar challenges during a break-up, the rules that apply to divorcing couples are not applicable. According to the ABA, unmarried couples cannot take advantage of tax-free transfers regarding property or buy out the house interest of a partner. Unfortunately, if a couple cannot come to an agreement in these situations, the house may be sold. 

Of course, these challenges have not stopped the growing popularity of cohabitation across the country. Findlaw provides additional information for when issues among unmarried couples arise, first pointing out that couples should decide how they will own property in the case that the relationship ends. This aspect can become especially tricky when only one partner takes ownership of a property; if that partner dies, the other would not have the rights to share that property. While certain problems that unmarried couples encounter may not always be black and white, there also exist documents couples can sign to ensure stability and order in future property-related situations.   




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