Married couples in Georgia have certain rights when it comes to dividing property and assets. But when couples choose to cohabitate, legal issues related to divorce and the division of property can become more complicated.
Consulting with an experienced family law attorney in Georgia can help you protect your personal assets and financial security. Your attorney can help you determine the legal options you have when you and your partner go your separate ways.
Cohabitation in Georgia
Cohabitation is the act of living together as though you and your partner were a legally married couple.
Each state has its own definition and laws related to cohabitation. In Georiga, cohabitation occurs when two parties openly live together on a continuous basis, regardless of the sex of either party.
But Georgia family courts don’t recognize cohabitation agreements. Even when expressed in writing, a cohabitation agreement won’t carry the legal weight of a marriage, and courts may refuse to hear disputes involving these agreements.
But there are legal steps you can take to protect yourself and your assets. An experienced attorney who understands cohabitation laws can help you determine the best strategy for your needs.
Property Rights and Cohabitation
Cohabitants who aren’t legally married shouldn’t expect the same property rights afforded to married couples. In a marriage, assets acquired during the marriage are considered to be “marital property” and subject to equitable division.
But this doesn’t apply to cohabitating couples. It becomes less clear how property acquired during the relationship will be treated when couples living together decide to separate.
It can even be difficult to divide assets that are jointly owned when cohabiting, making it even more important to consult with a family law attorney who can help you make sense of your circumstances.
Protecting Your Property When Cohabitation Ends
Although Georgia family courts won’t be involved in resolving property division and other aspects of your cohabitation, an attorney can help you consider options like mediation.
The mediation process lets you and your partner come to an agreement outside of the courts. This can make the process easier and less costly.
An attorney can help you enter into a contract that allows you and your partner to establish terms related to each party’s rights and duties as they relate to financial assets and personal property.
In some cases, cohabitating couples may decide to treat any assets acquired during the relationship as “separate property”. In other cases, couples may pool together their earnings and other assets and form a legally held partnership.
These and other options can help you and your partner protect your property and avoid unwanted legal disputes. Establishing power of attorney and using other estate planning tools can also help cohabitating couples protect their property during and after the relationship.
Trusts can be used to hold property for the benefit of a partner or other family members.Your attorney can offer the resources you need to protect personal property, financial accounts, and other assets.
Even though cohabitating couples may not have the same legal rights under Georgia family law that married couples enjoy, they can still determine the best ways to protect themselves from having to divide their property.
Working with an attorney who understands your case and the laws that govern how cohabitating couples can divide personal property is essential to getting the outcome you want and protecting your financial security.