WARNING: Unmarried couples
have no legal relationship rights
…what is the single most important thing you can do
In our family law practices, one of the most common things we hear from our unmarried clients who are in a relationship and have just had the law explained to them is, "I wish I had known that a long time ago!" Or, "If only I had known that before (whatever) happened."
to protect each other and your relationship?
Every state has laws that govern and protect the rights and responsibilities of married people. But things are different for unmarried couples in a long-term relationship. Here are some questions you need to ask:
The answer to the last question in most cases is "no." For unmarried couples, the single most important thing you can do to protect each other and your relationship is to create the rights and responsibilities you want with legally binding contracts, such as the relationship agreement I created in my latest book, The Couples Contract for a Lasting Relationship, along with wills, trusts, titles, and other documents.
- Does your state have common-law marriage? If so, how does one end up married under that law?
- Do unmarried people who cohabit have any duty higher than that of strangers when dealing with one another?
- Under what circumstances (if any) do unmarried people acquire a duty to support one another? That is, does your state recognize "palimony?"
- Do unmarried couples have the same rights as married people to visit the other partner in the hospital or in jail?
- Are there any laws that govern or protect people in unmarried relationships?
To better understand how the law affects your relationship, I show you in my book how to get advice and conduct your own research through books in print, law libraries, and the internet. It is better to know the rules that affect your relationship before some event comes into play that will set the rules in motion.
Copyright 2006 Ed Sherman
Ed Sherman is a family law attorney, award-winning author, and founder of Nolo Press. He started the self-help law movement in 1971 when he published the first edition of How to Do Your Own Divorce, and founded the paralegal industry in 1973. In his latest book, featuring the Couples Contract, Ed applies what he has learned from years of experience to help couples protect and preserve their relationship. You can order his books from www.nolocouples.com
or by calling (800) 464-5502.