Just as divorcing couples deal with a wide array of legal issues, unmarried couples, too, can face difficulties when separating. If children are involved, parents may struggle to compromise on parenting time, and emotions often come into play. Few realize that unmarried couples also have to deal with property division, which can be a complicated matter and, if handled improperly, can leave you on uncertain financial footing.
From a legal standpoint, the way property is divided amongst an unmarried couple depends on how the property was held. For example, if property is held in joint tenancy, meaning that each partner shared equally in its ownership, then the property will likely be split in half. The same is true for property held in tenancy-in-common, which occurs when each party owns a distinct share of the property. Unlike joint tenancy, which has a right of survivorship where if one party dies the other owner absorbs that share, tenancy-in-common property becomes part of the deceased individual's estate upon death.
On the other hand, if you are the sole owner of a piece of property, then you will likely retain ownership once the relationship comes to an end. The non-owning party could try to show that there was an intention for both parties to share the property, but this is often difficult to satisfactorily establish.
Legal issues surrounding the dissolution of an unmarried couple's relationship can be complex. The matter can be made even more convoluted if one party dies or if children are involved. Therefore, to ensure a fair outcome that leaves you in as favorable of a position as is possible under the circumstances, it may be wise for you to consider speaking with an experienced Ohio family law attorney.
Source: FindLaw, "Unmarried Couples and Property - Basics," accessed on Mar. 2, 2015