Making The Complex

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How do you divide property when you’re not married?

You’ve been in a long-term relationship for many years. You rely on your partner, and he or she relies on you. Despite the fact that you never got married, you always felt like you were in that kind of committed relationship.

Now, your partner wants to separate. You have no agreements in place to protect your property, but you know that, in most cases, individuals leave with what they came with when they separate. The problem for you is that your finances are so entangled that you aren’t sure who should own what.

How should you divide your assets?

It’s hard to say without looking at your exact situation, but there are a few things to consider. For instance, if you and your partner bought a house and both of you have paid on it, it may be wise to split the property’s value 50-50. This the best way to handle joint accounts that you’ve both paid equally on.

If one of you always paid the mortgage and has the house in his or her name, then it makes more sense for you to continue doing so. It could also make sense to sell the property and to divide any profits you make equitably. However, if your partner can prove that the home was purchased intentionally for you to live together, he or she may have a greater claim, even though it’s technically only listed in your name.

You and your partner have the option to come up with a fair division of your property on your own or with the help of mediation, arbitration or the courts. Depending on the process you choose, you’ll have more, or less, input. For instance, if you and your partner make an agreement on your own, then you both walk away knowing you settled it amongst yourselves. Otherwise, the judge or arbitrator may make a decision for you that you have less say in.


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