Kevin Qualls Family Law
Maintaining Professionalism. Preserving Civility. Finding Answers. Practical Guidance On Important Divorce And Custody Matters

Unmarried couples and property rights

Like most other states, California does not afford the benefit of its community property laws to unmarried couples who choose to live and maintain a household together but who do not formalize their relationship in any way.

What this means is that, while each member of the couple has certain rights with respect to this property, these rights are not the same in the event of breakup as they would be in the event of a divorce.

This may not be a big deal when the couple does not have a lot of assets, but it can present complex family law problems when a couple are high earners, have lived together for a while and have a lot of property between them.

Basically, in the absence of some agreement between them, the couple will divide their property piecemeal, according to who holds legal title to the property.

For example, if a home is in the name of one person, that person is legal owner of the property, although the other member of the couple can argue that he or she made valuable contributions to the property's upkeep and thus, in fairness, is entitled to some proceeds from the property. On the other hand, if property is held jointly between the couple, the presumption will be that each person is entitled to half for the property. Other property may be divided in the same manner.

While this is a very basic overview, the reality is that dividing property between unmarried couples can involve questions that one will likely need a lawyer to help resolve.

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Kevin Qualls Family Law
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