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Living Together - Unmarried


Summary:  Couples who live together must be married to get the benefit of a lot of legal rights which unmarried couples do not have. Those who live together without marriage have no legal rights by reason of living together. The cost can be very large.


Living Together, But Unmarried, in Colorado

Couples who live together but are not married generally give up a lot of legal rights and financial benefits.

When the couple separates, there is no marital property to divide. Neither has any rights in the property of the other.

If the couple is not married, there is no such thing as a division of property based on fairness or equity. The legal effect of how the property is titled will control. No matter who contributed what to the acquisition of the property.

For example, if they own real estate together, generally each has a right to 50% of the equity. It depends on how the property is legally titled.

I often see that just one of the parties contributed all of the cash at the time of purchase - where often the cash comes from the sale of a previously-owned property. A court will rule that jointly-owned property is owned 50-50. Thus, the party who contributed the equity and may have made the monthly payments, is deemed to have made a gift of 50% of the value of the property.

This is much different than what a divorce court may order, based on principles of equity (fairness.) And often the court will give credit to who contributed what to a marital home.

Marital Rights for the Unmarried - There are None

Unlike a case where the couple is married, there is no right to any of the other’s retirement assets, investment accounts, health insurance, life insurance, or inheritance.

There is no right to be insured on the other party’s health insurance. In contrast, many employer-provided health insurance plans allow the employee to insure a spouse and the children at no cost or a reduced cost.

If one of the parties dies, the other person does not have any inheritance rights, unless a will provides such rights. Even if a will does provide inheritance rights, the rights are much less than those of a surviving spouse. For example, a surviving spouse has an exempt property allowance and temporary support rights. A surviving spouse also has a right to elect against the will. An unmarried partner has no such rights.

Common Law Marriage

Colorado does recognize common law marriage in some limited circumstances.  You should not rely on or expect that a court will find that you are common law married.


GIF The material on this web site is for informational purposes only. This law firm practices only in Colorado. An attorney-client relationship is established only when an agreement as to the scope of representation and fees has been signed and a retainer paid. Colorado law may consider these web site materials to be attorney advertising. GIF
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