Community Property Rights For Cohabiting But Unmarried Couples In California
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Community Property Rights For Cohabiting But Unmarried Couples In California

Marriage ties two people together romantically as well as legally. They share their assets, debts, and yes, the properties too. However, the social landscape is changing in California, as well as other states. Now, traditional heterosexual or homosexual couples opt to live together in domestic partnerships rather than get married.

The community property rights for cohabiting but unmarried people vary from state to state. Some states allow unmarried couples to afford the same rights as their married counterparts through common law marries after spending a specific time living together. Unfortunately, California does not recognize the common marriage law. Therefore, it doesn’t grant any community property rights to unmarried couples without having a prior agreement. But most cases are not so straightforward. They need a competent lawyer’s help in ascertaining the legal rights of unmarried couples living together in California.

Community Property Rights For Cohabiting But Unmarried Couples In California

Cohabitation property agreement

This is a contract that is generally used in California between couples cohabiting together. It allows them to enjoy some of the legal benefits of married couples without actually getting married. In some aspects, a cohabitation property agreement is somewhat similar to a prenuptial agreement. It lays out agreed-upon terms of property ownership’s multiples aspects within a defined relationship, such as;

The ownership of physical property, like homes, cars, paintings, stamp collections, etc.

Particulars of the total income and expenses of both individuals.

Management of bank accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, and other finances.

Granting rights to make medical decisions when a partner is incapacitated.

Complete or partial guardianship rights if a partner is disabled.

A plan to dissolve the agreement if the couple decides to part ways.

If real estate is a part of a cohabitation property agreement, you may also need to address the following points;

Transferring terms of ownership to a partner if the other partner dies.

Agreement about appraisals, equity, payment terms, and a plan for one partner to buy out the other.

Ownership listings.

Plan for dissolution of agreement or separation of the property in case partners decide to part ways.

Cohabitation property agreement vs Marriage

Most laws for married couples do not apply to unmarried people in California. That’s why they opt for a cohabitation property agreement to secure their rights. Even then, the unmarried couples may not enjoy

many of the same benefits as their married counterparts, such as;

Unmarried couples must file for income taxes separately.

They can only pursue compensation as highlighted in the cohabitation property agreement. If there is no agreement, there will be no compensation in case of separation.

No spousal support or its equivalent without prior written agreement.

No automatic allocation of assets to a partner in case of another partner’s death unless an existing contract is there.

Should you create a cohabitation property agreement?

Some couples hesitate to create a cohabitation agreement for the same reason many of them hesitate to sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage. They think signing such an agreement is akin to condemning a relationship to failure before it even begins. However, the benefits such agreements offer are not denied for some phantom foreboding. A few reasons for couples to create a cohabitation property agreement in California are;

Outlining the financial responsibilities of both partners.

Prevention of an asset from going to the wrong person after a partner dies.

Outlining compensation terms in case of separation.

Couples can also outline terms in a cohabitation agreement that are more flexible than the terms of a marriage or a divorce.

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