Division of Property for Unmarried Couples
Understanding Property Division Laws
"Cohabitation" is the legal term for unmarried couples living together in a marriage-like relationship. Ordinarily, cohabiting couples cannot avail themselves of the divorce statutes when things go wrong. What are they to do with jointly acquired property, then, when parting ways?
The law provides for legal action for equitable distribution of property under K.S.A. § 23-2802. Specifically, one member of a cohabiting couple files a petition asking the court of appropriate jurisdiction to use its "powers of equity" to equitably divide the parties' jointly acquired assets and liabilities (debts) between them. Just like in a divorce action, the court has broad discretion to divide the assets and liabilities as it deems appropriate, that is, in a "just and equitable" manner.
Although not obliged to do so, most courts will generally divide things equally unless provided with a compelling reason to do otherwise. The same rules apply in "equitable division of property" cases for unmarried couples. In essence, the law "borrows" from divorce law on division of property and applies it to the common occurrence of unmarried, cohabiting couples. In order to understand the law and how it applies to your specific circumstances, you need to consult an experienced divorce lawyer, also known as a family law attorney.
What property and debts are subject to division?
For equitable property division cases, only those assets and debts which the parties intended to be jointly acquired are subject to division. This requires that the judge be provided with admissible evidence that the parties intended that the parties would jointly acquire the assets and debts. In order to understand what constitutes admissible evidence and, just as importantly, what evidence will likely persuade a judge in your favor, you need an experienced family law attorney by your side.
Does it matter how the property or debts are titled?
As in divorce law, it does not necessarily matter how the property and debts are titled if there is other evidence that the parties intended that each party would exercise equal ownership over the property and generally would be responsible for repaying the debts. Persuasive evidence for such cases varies from case to case, and there is not necessarily a short answer. If you have questions, consult an experienced divorce attorney about the particular facts of your case.
Consult with an Olathe Property Division Attorney
Call the offices of Martin & Wallentine today if you are unmarried, but want an equitable division of property in a separation. Our legal team is prepared to help. Call our firm for a free consultation or complete our online evaluation so that we can review your case and help you obtain the assets and property you deserve.