What Are My Rights If We're Not Legally Married?

What Legal Entitlements Do I Have As A Woman If My Partner and I Are Not Married?

Marriage is becoming less common throughout the United States, and couples who are in committed relationships but who are not legally married break up, just like married couples. Unfortunately, when that happens, couples face a lot of the same issues as married couples, such as how assets should be divided and what the parenting plan should look like.

When an unmarried couple breaks up, there can be several legal issues that women may face, including:

  • Property rights: If the couple shared property, assets, or debts, dividing them fairly may become a legal issue. In some cases, women may not have the same property rights as men, especially if they were not the legal owners of the property.
  • Child custody and support: If the couple has children, determining child custody and support may become a legal issue. In some cases, women may face more challenges in gaining custody of their children or receiving adequate child support.
  • Domestic violence: If there was domestic violence in the relationship, women may need to seek legal protection from their former partner.

Some rights, such as the right to marital property and spousal support, work differently and vary between states. Regardless of whether you were married or not, the best way to ensure that the rights you do have are protected is to seek the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Woodford Sathappan McGee exclusively represents women in family law matters across Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Our goal is for you to leave your partner feeling confident and secure about your future.

To arrange a free consultation with an experienced attorney, contact our law firm today at 380-212-3731.

Parental Rights of Unmarried Couples

Regardless of whether you are married or not, separating when you have children is always more difficult. Parents have rights and responsibilities towards their children regardless of marriage. However, only legal parents have rights, which can be more complicated for fathers.

When a woman is married to a man, and they have a baby, the man is automatically presumed to be the father. If they are not married then paternity will need to be established, which is often done at the hospital when the child is born. Alternatively, paternity can be established at a later date, either voluntarily when both parents sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or involuntarily through DNA testing and court intervention. If the man’s name is on the birth certificate, then he will have parental rights and responsibilities.

Child Custody For Unmarried Couples

When you leave your partner, you will need a parenting plan. Parents have a right to have a relationship with their children, and so most cases will result in a shared parenting plan or joint custody arrangement.

Family law decisions must be based on the child’s best interests, which usually means keeping both parents in their life while fostering stability. While custody can be shared equally, often, one parent becomes the primary caregiver who the child will live with for the majority of the time, while the other has visitation rights. A typical visitation schedule could be every other weekend and one weekday evening each week. This could benefit the child, who will have a clear routine and access to their friends and community.

Child custody also includes the right to make important decisions in the child’s life, such as those that pertain to school, religion, or education. This is known as legal custody in some states and could be given to one parent, or it could be shared, and parents would need to work together to make important decisions.

A family law attorney can help you and your former partner come to an amicable agreement regarding child custody. You can choose to seek a court order so that clear boundaries are in place. If you and your former partner cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, then your attorney will represent you in court so that a Judge can make a final ruling.

A sole custody arrangement could also be granted, but only if it is in the child’s best interests. The only reason why a parent would lose their custody rights is if they pose a risk to their child’s wellbeing, such as evidence of abuse or substance misuse. In order to achieve a sole custody arrangement, it is important to have the help of an experienced family law attorney.

How to Seek Child Support From an Unmarried Partner

In addition to having a right to spend time with their children, both parents are also responsible for providing for their children financially. If one parent has custody of their child for the majority of the time, the other will often be required to pay child support.

An attorney for women can help you secure a child support order that helps you to meet your child’s needs, such as shelter, food, clothes, entertainment, and more. Once an order is in place, it is legally binding, and if payments are missed, you can take legal action to recover what is owed to you.

Property Rights of Unmarried Couples

When married couples divorce, they are each entitled to their fair share of marital property, including all assets acquired during the marriage by either partner.

However, if you are not married to your partner, then you do not have the same rights to marital assets. You still have a right to any assets that you owned before the relationship and any assets that you acquired personally while you were in a relationship with your partner. Any assets that you both own may be divided. For example, if both of your names are on the deed to your house, then you could own it equally. However, one partner could fight for a larger percent if they can show that they made a larger contribution.

Property division can be particularly complex for unmarried couples. The best way to ensure that your rights are protected is to seek the help of an experienced family law lawyer.

Cohabitation Agreement

Living with a partner does not create the same contractual relationship as a marriage certificate. Despite this, living together usually results in shared finances and responsibilities. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a written agreement such as a cohabitation agreement or living-together contract.

A legal document will give you guidance on factors such as dividing your assets in the event that you leave your partner.

Spousal Support For Unmarried Couples

In a divorce, a higher-earning partner may be required to pay spousal support to the other to ensure that they can meet their financial needs. This is not the case for unmarried couples.

However, if you require support to meet your financial needs, then some states allow for palimony, which is similar. Unfortunately, this is not available in Ohio, Indiana, or Michigan.

What Are My Rights if I Have Suffered Domestic Violence From My Partner?

Everyone has a right to live free from abuse, regardless of their marital status. If you have suffered abuse of any form from your partner, then it is important that you seek experienced representation.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we understand how difficult it is to take the first steps in leaving an abusive partner. That is why we will get to work quickly and dedicate ourselves to your safety and security. If necessary, we will file for a protection order to keep your partner away from you and your children. We will work with you to help you evidence your claims to a Judge and will ensure that they are considered in all decisions relating to your case, such as child custody.

What are My Rights if We’re Not Legally Married FAQs

Only a handful of states recognize common law marriage, which gives unmarried partners the same legal rights as a married couple in certain situations. Although Ohio and Indiana recognized it in the past, it has since abolished it.

You get to keep the house will depend upon whose name is listed on the deed. If only one name is on the deed, then the other will not have a claim to the house. If both names are listed, then it will be jointly owned, and you will need to come to an agreement on how to deal with the property.

Family law decisions must be made free from gender bias, and so neither the mother nor the father is favored by the court. Instead, decisions must be made based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Speak to a Women’s Rights Attorney Today

Although unmarried partners do not have the same rights as married couples, you do still have important rights that should be upheld. The best way to leave your partner while ensuring that your future is secure is to seek the help of an experienced attorney for women.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we are committed to supporting women through family law matters. We will empower you with knowledge of your rights and guide you through your case so that you can move forward with your life feeling secure in your future.

We will help you and your former partner negotiate agreements where possible, and where you can’t agree we will be prepared to present your case to a Judge. We always prioritize the needs of children, while also advocating fiercely on behalf of our clients.

Contact us today at 380-212-3731 to schedule a free consultation with one of our family law attorneys.