Not all couples who are together for years get married. They might decide marriage isn’t for them, or perhaps they just never get around to it. In some ways, splitting up when you were never married can be easier. However, it can also make things more difficult too. The end of a relationship is never easy to deal with. When you don’t have the legal protections of a marriage, it can complicate things. For example, perhaps you have a mortgage together or your finances are connected in other ways. One thing to consider before calling it quits is couples counseling. But if it’s just not going to work out, sorting through the various issues when you split up can be difficult. Pay attention to the concerns below to help you untangle everything.
Often, the first thing you need to do is work out where both of you will live. If you lived together, deciding who gets to stay and who goes is sometimes hard. If one of you has wronged the other in some way, you might decide they’re the one who should leave. If you have children, perhaps the primary caregiver will stay in the home with them. However, maybe one of you has their name on the property and the other doesn’t. It can be a complicated issue to work out, which you should discuss. In some cases, you might be able to live together until one of you can find a new permanent home.
Referring to Established Legal Agreements
If you’re smart, you might have drawn up a legal agreement in the past. For example, if you move in together you can create a cohabitation agreement. If you have written up a contract like this, referring to it will help you immensely. It should include some points that will help you make some important decisions. In fact, the point of this type of contract is that you have made the decisions already. Not only that, but you made them when you were happy together and not clouded by negative feelings. If your partner doesn’t stick to your agreement, you could have legal recourse.
Dividing Your Assets
Even when you don’t marry, your property can become entangled. You might agree that you both get the possessions you brought into the relationship. But what about anything you might have bought together, or even gifts you got each other? Plus, you might have a joint bank account that you have paid into unequally. Dividing your assets can be difficult. However, you can look for help, even if you’re not getting divorced. Using a mediator can help you to come to an agreement on anything you don’t agree on. Eventually, you will decide who gets the car, furniture, and other possessions.
The Family Home
Moving out isn’t the only concern you have regarding your home. In fact, it might be best not to move out in some cases. If your name is on the mortgage or title of the house, it’s easy to argue that you have an interest in the property. If neither of these things is true, it doesn’t automatically mean you don’t have a claim to your home. For example, if you have been contributing toward the mortgage (rather than just paying rent), you might have a case. It’s important to investigate this before you admit defeat and give up any claim you might have to the property.
Working Out Child Custody and Support
If you have children together, you still need to work out a plan for their care. Some couples can do this amicably, while others might need some help. You need to put a parenting plan in place so each parent knows their responsibilities. Some of the issues you might need to work out include who pays for what, where the child’s primary home is, and how much time each parent spends with them.
Creating a Legal Agreement
Once you have reached agreements on the important issues, you can make it official. Create a legal document to outline everything you have decided. Make sure you do it the right way so that it holds up if you need to go to court. A separation agreement will give both of you accountability. You will need to ensure that you follow the clauses that you set out. You can include things like how your assets and possessions will be split and care of your children. It can also help you save money on legal fees.
Splitting up can messy, whether you were married or not. You can make it easier to manage by addressing the important issues and trying to work together.