It is not unusual for two people to live together, be in a committed relationship and even start a family together without getting married. People in these situations may feel like marriage is unnecessary, or they may have negative attitudes toward marriage. Whatever the reason may be, deciding not to marry is a personal choice that many people are making these days.
That being said, there are certain benefits to marriage that are not afforded to unmarried couples. For instance, if the relationship ends, unmarried couples can have a considerably more difficult time figuring out how to divide up shared assets. This is because property division laws in Florida only apply to married couples.
However, there are things you can do to protect property without getting married.
As this FindLaw article notes, one of the most substantial assets to protect will be the home you share. Dividing the property will depend on whether you co-own it or it is in one person’s name. Owning together grants each person a share of the home; individual ownership can leave the non-owner without options to recover financial contributions he or she made to the home.
If you want to ensure your partner receives property in the event of your death, consider saying as much in a legally enforceable will. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that a home you shared or any other property will transfer to that person.
Protecting yourself from your partner’s debt can also be critical. Thankfully, you will not have to take over any debt payments unless you have co-signed on a loan or have a joint account. Keeping separate accounts can therefore be wise.
When any significant relationship ends, there is going to be a lot of property that needs to be divvied up. Without the guidance of equitable distribution laws, this can be very difficult.
If you are unmarried and have property you wish to protect, you would be wise to consult an attorney familiar with the legal challenges with which unmarried couples in Florida can be confronted. Legal guidance can help you avoid costly mistakes and plan ahead to avoid contentious battles over property.