Posts tagged ‘palimony’

February 23, 2011

Rights of Unmarried Couples

With more unmarried couples living together every day, the rights of individual partners in an unmarried relationship are giving rise to more prominent legal issues. Arizona law does not grant common law marriage rights. (Though, in some cases, common law marriages formed in another state may be recognized in Arizona.)

Community Property is a legal presumption that allows married partners to have equal claim to almost all property and debts acquired during marriage. Because Arizona does not allow common law marriages, an unmarried couple could live together indefinitely and not have any legal rights to the other partner’s property.

Generally, if an unmarried couple splits up, each partner will be able to keep their own separate property and have no rights to the other partner’s property. If one partner purchased a home in his name alone, the other partner generally will not have claim to that home, even if it were purchased during the relationship and both parties lived together in the home. While there are some exceptions that may grant the other partner rights to property, (for example, if the unprotected partner has proof that he or she contributed to the purchase price, mortgage, and maintenance) in most cases absent written agreement, the partner with title will prevail.

Palimony is a term that refers to money that one partner may be entitled to by another partner upon separation. Although this concept is not a legal concept recognized by statutory law, there are some cases that suggest that unmarried partners may have rights to “palimony” upon separation in rare circumstances.

The best way to avoid a messy legal conflict upon separation is to enter into a written agreement prior to living together. This agreement should address any concerns such as how finances should be split (both incomes and expenses), real property, and personal property. This agreement should also address any issues that may come about such as one partner working and providing income to the other partner, or what rights each partner may have in the event that the couple has children. While it is not possible to address every potential issue that may arise from a relationship, the more in depth the agreement is, the better off the parties will be if they separate. Approaching one’s partner with this matter may be a touchy subject. While hopefully the relationship may survive indefinitely, it’s better to be safe than sorry by taking necessary precautions and entering into a written agreement with one’s partner.

Another concern that unmarried couples should address is what will happen upon the death of each partner. Per Arizona intestacy law, unmarried partners have no rights of inheritance. For this reason, it is imperative that both partners in an unmarried relationship draft wills explaining how they wish their assets to be devised upon death.

The attorneys at The Carroll Law Firm can help you with any of your legal issues including drafting a cohabitation agreement, drafting wills and estate documents, or researching and explaining rights you may have absent an agreement upon separation. Call us today to set up a free initial consultation at (623)551-9366.