What Is the Law When Unmarried Couples Separate?
- If there is no court order, a child's biological parents have equal rights to him. There is no legal presumption about who he should live with.
- Biological parents have a legal responsibility to pay child support, even if it's not court-ordered.
- Debts are governed by contract. If two people jointly sign a contract, both are responsible for the debt. If only one person signs a contract, that individual is solely responsible for the debt. This applies even if their ex-partner paid the debt until the date of separation or kept the property secured by the debt.
- Generally, unmarried couples cannot ask for a court's intervention in deciding who is entitled to property following a separation.
- Cohabitation agreements, which can be oral or written, are not recognized by all states. Cohabitation agreements essentially outline an unmarried couple's agreement as to how property and debt should be divided if they separate.