Cohabitation: What Are My Rights?

It has become very popular in recent years for unmarried couples to live together. This is known as cohabitation. Some cohabitating couples opt to get married after living together for a few years. Others choose to end their relationships and move on separately, which can create confusion about personal property and its division among unmarried partners.

Property division and palimony are two issues that many unmarried couples wonder about following their break up. Various states have laws outlining palimony payment and the division of jointly-held property between unmarried partners.

Palimony and Common Law Marriage in Illinois

In Illinois, unmarried individuals are not entitled to seek palimony. Palimony is a colloquial term, modeled on the term “alimony,” for financial support paid from one partner to another following the dissolution of their relationship as a financial safety net for the lesser-earning partner.

Common law marriage was outlawed in Illinois in 1905. Common law marriage is a situation where a couple lives together as husband and wife despite not actually being legally married. In some states, referring to each other as spouses, filing joint tax returns, and otherwise maintaining the illusion of being married is considered to be a common law marriage, which gives unmarried couples some of the same rights as married couples.

Property Division Among Unmarried Couples

In Illinois, unmarried individuals are legally considered to be single. That means that all personal property that an individual has when he or she enters a relationship, including pets, belongs to him or her when the relationship ends.

When an unmarried couple purchases a piece of property together, such as a house, both of their names must be on the property’s deed for them to both have ownership rights to it. There are two options for unmarried couples who want to purchase property together: joint tenants and tenants-in-common.

When a couple decides to own their property as joint tenants, the property is shared 50/50. If one partner dies, the other gains ownership of his or her share of the property.

With a tenants-in-common agreement, each partner has a specified percentage of ownership of the property. Each partner’s right to the property following the couple’s break up is correlated with the amount of money he or she invested into the property. When one partner in this type of agreement dies, his or her partner does not retain his or her interest in the property. Instead, it is added to his or her estate.

Child Support and Custody

Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, an unmarried father must prove his paternity of his child to be granted the right to seek custody and required to make child support payments. After he has established his paternity, the court uses the same methods to determine child support and custody arrangements that it uses with children of divorcing parents.

Divorce and Family Attorneys in DuPage County

If you have recently ended your relationship and own property with your former partner, contact Abear Law Offices to discuss your needs, your rights, and your obligations as an unmarried property owner with one of our firm’s compassionate, experienced Wheaton divorce attorneys.