Bruce C. Zivley, Attorney at Law

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Property division for unmarried couples

In Texas and around the U.S., unmarried couples often find that splitting up assets is a significant problem when the relationship ends. Property division issues in a divorce are primarily determined by whether the jurisdiction is a community property state or follows equitable distribution principles, but no strict guidelines exist for unmarried partners who are ending their relationship after living together and acquiring property or sharing income. One family law advisor recommends that these couples protect themselves by creating in effect a property prenuptial agreement.

Agreeing what belongs to whom should a relationship end can make life a lot simpler for the parties involved. Such an agreement would state clearly what each partner brought in the way of assets into their shared home and be modified every time another important piece of property is purchased. Houses, automobiles and pets are things that can make for a bitter battle which may be avoidable by use of a formal written agreement.

Another recommendation for couples who failed to work out a division of assets at the beginning of their cohabitation is to try to be as unemotional and businesslike as possible while working out money and property issues. It can be advisable to figure out who needs a certain asset more as well as who may be more financially capable of maintaining it.

While property division is often a contentious issue during a divorce proceeding, the absence of statutory authority can make it even more complicated for an unmarried couple. A family law attorney may be able to help prepare an agreement that would cover these matters.

Source: Main Street, "Splitting Up Your Finances After You Split", Nicholas Pell, December 18, 2013

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