When you sit and think about all of the reasons not to get married, this type of coupling makes sense to a lot of people in the country. In fact, this has become more popular than ever in the last few decades as the world steps into more modern times with a clear focus on equality in partnerships. Yet it leaves a noticeable question of what happens to your assets if you remain unmarried. Northwest Family Law has created a guide to discuss this topic.
Defining a Committed Relationship for Unmarried Couples
It is harder to find legal protection for your assets if you are not legally wed, but there are certain conditions that define a committed relationship that could hold potential benefits. There is a general notion of common law marriage, which kicks into place after seven years of living together. However, it is not completely recognized in all of the states, especially here in Washington, and therefore is irrelevant to this post. What Washington state does recognize is a CIR or committed intimate relationship.
What Factors Are Taken into Account?
The state defines this way of living in various ways for the different situations that come into conflict. As a general rule, it will depend upon how long you have been together, why you are a couple in the first place, whether you have children, and whether you have lived as a couple for an extended period.
Areas to Take Special Care With
For unmarried couples, there are certain areas that require some special attention. This typically includes property, retirement funds, cars, and any other pot of savings you might have joint access to. It is incredibly difficult to protect yourself and your assets if you share them with your partner, but you have no security from a legal marriage agreement.
Let’s begin with arguably the biggest asset of all: property. If the court allows that a couple has a committed intimate relationship, it is possible to seek certain types of financial arrangements that take both parties into consideration. This includes the division of property and defining living arrangements for any children involved.
Alternative Spousal Support
There is no such provision as alimony readily available, so this should be taken into account during a breakup. It means that you won’t be able to request spousal style support from a judge because it will be immediately thrown out. You may be able to protect your own bank account and money if you make a case for it but it is typical for assets to be divided with regards to equity and not as an even split.
If Your Partner Passes Away
Unfortunately, if you remain unmarried and your partner dies, then you are not legally entitled to any of their assets in the case that they have not left a will. You will not be able to make important decisions about the estate unless you are named specifically as next of kin. This is not always going to be the case, though, and the majority of your partner’s assets may defer to a sibling or parent instead.
What Can You Do to Gain Financial Protection in Your Relationship?
Ultimately, there are some smart steps that you can take to ensure that you receive some level of protection should your relationship either end or your partner die. This includes ensuring every will is updated and putting things like property in both of the couple’s names on all legal documents. Our team can guide you through any of these matters and make it a top priority to keep your assets safe in all circumstances. It is possible to create a legally binding contract that will detail everything you want it to.
Why Is It Important?
This topic is one of the most important to discuss for any person who is in a long-term relationship but remains unmarried. While marriage is less popular than ever before, it is still the only viable route for financial protection, so everything outside of this framework merits discussion.
Northwest Family Law is available to provide support for unmarried couples considering a breakup. There will be a lot to navigate, and it is only natural to want to know what your options are financially speaking. Thankfully, our expert attorneys are here to help.
You can find our office at the address below. We are ready and waiting to welcome you for an appointment.
- Bellevue – 10900 Northeast 4th St, Suite 2300, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Kirkland – 1207 Market St. Kirkland, WA 98033
Or call now for a free consultation on (206) 792-0981.