Archive for the ‘cohabitation’ tag

Cohabitation and Your Rights to Your Home and Your Children Following a Break Up

April 1st, 2015 at 5:22 pm

property rights, cohabitation agreements, Illinois Family Law AttorneyToday, it is not uncommon for unmarried couples to live together, purchase real estate and other property together, and have children. Many individuals live with their partners for decades without marrying. However, choosing cohabitation comes with unique challenges. When a couple gets married, they get certain legal protections. These protections include the right to share property such as their home and their bank accounts and the assumption that any children born to the couple are biologically related to their father, allowing him to seek custody and child support without having to prove his paternity if the relationship deteriorates.

If you are not married, you will need to sign certain documents to assert your rights to your home and your child. Talk to your attorney about your obligations as an unmarried parent or homeowner and how to protect yourself in the event your relationship ends.

Child Support and Custody for Unmarried Parents

If a child’s parents are not married when he or she was born, paternity must be established through a Voluntary Acknowledgement  of Paternity or through an order from the court . This is required by the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984.

Once a child’s paternity is established, either parent may seek child support from the other. This also entitles the father to add his name to the child’s birth certificate and seek custody or visitation rights with the child. Until paternity is established, the father is considered to be the child’s “alleged father.”

Tenancy Options for Unmarried Homeowners

When an unmarried couple decides to buy a house together, they need to establish an agreement regarding the type of shared tenancy they will have. There are two options available for unmarried homeowners: joint tenancy, and tenants-in-common.

With a joint tenancy agreement, the couple has an equal right to use and enjoy the home. If they break up and decide to sell the house, each partner is entitled to half of its value. If one partner dies, the other is entitled to take over full ownership of the home.

In a tenants-in-common agreement, the partners can have different percentages worth of ownership of their home. This may be based on the amount of money each contributed to purchasing it or the amount of maintenance each partner puts into the household. With this type of agreement, an individual’s share of the house becomes part of his or her estate, not his or her partner’s property, upon his or her death.

Regardles of type of ownership you choose, it will also be wise to an agreement about how the household expenses will be paid. Which agreement you choose depends on your relationship and your resources. Talk to both your partner and your attorney about your choices regarding shared ownership of your home to determine which is best for you.

Chicago Family Law Attorneys

To learn more about your rights following a break up, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with Anderson & Associates, P.C. Our experienced Chicago family law attorneys focus on divorce and family topics and will advocate for you through every step of the legal process. We proudly serve our clients with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Is a Cohabitation Agreement Right for You?

February 12th, 2015 at 9:44 am

cohabitation agreements in Illinois, Chicago family lawyerThere are over 7.5 million unmarried couples cohabiting in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For some people, marriage is not what they want, and for others, they have already been married and do not want to marry again. No matter what the reason, cohabiting couples in Illinois who decide to separate do not automatically have rights in court like married couples do under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. A cohabitation agreement can help you and your partner state what will happen while you are living together or after your relationship ends.

Illinois does not recognize rights for cohabitating couples, or common law marriages, as Costa v. Oliven demonstrates. In that case, the couple cohabitated for 24 years, building a family and business together, without getting married. They shared property, bank accounts, assets, and had a daughter. Oliven worked while her partner, Costa, stayed home to raise their daughter. When Oliven told Costa to move out of the home they shared, Costa filed a complaint with the court. His complaint and appeal were dismissed because the parties were not married and there was no cohabitation agreement in place.

While the idea of separation is not at the forefront of anyone’s mind when they move in together, you may still want to protect your assets or establish safeguards should anything happen to you or your partner. Without a cohabitation agreement or estate planning documents in place, you likely would not have any legal rights to the assets you have shared or to make decisions on behalf of the other.

You and your partner may want to consider a cohabitation agreement if you:

  • Own property before you start cohabiting;
  • Have children and want or need to define parenting roles;
  • Are considering co-mingling your accounts;
  • Want to name each other as guardian should something happen;
  • Want to clarify what happens to property and assets if you separate or one partner passes away; or
  • Want to state how expenses will be paid.

An experienced family law attorney can help you and your partner state exactly what you want to happen during and after your cohabitation. Should something happen to one of you, you want to ensure your wishes are carried out. They can help you understand what rights you have and how to protect yourself, your partner, and your assets in case of separation, incapacitation or death.

If you have taken the next step in your relationship with your partner and are cohabiting or you are not considering marriage but would like to commit to your partner by other means, contact one of our Chicago cohabitation agreement lawyers today. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from any of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage

September 25th, 2013 at 10:43 am

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage IMAGEFewer Americans are opting to remarry after a divorce, according to a recent analysis by Bowling Green State University and reported upon in the Huffington Post. “The findings,” reports the Huffington Post, “showed that a mere 29 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans remarried in 2011. Back in 1990, 50 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans had married again.” Concurrent with this is the fact that the percentage of recent marriages in which one or both people is remarrying has been steadily declining in recent years. According to a 2006 Census Bureau publication, in 1996, 43.4 percent of all marriages within the past year involved a person who was remarrying. In 2001, that percentage had dropped to 37.8; in 2004, it had dropped to 35.9 percent.

One reason for this decline could simply be a skewing of demographics: with a substantial increase in the population of the elderly due to the ageing of the Baby Boomer generation, there are likely to be more widows who are old enough that they don’t remarry. Because women live longer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are more likely to be widowed than men—three times as likely, in fact. According to Census Bureau statistics, 48 percent of elderly women are widowed, as opposed to 14 percent of elderly men. There are not statistics available as to how many elderly widows are remarrying.

And yet sociologist Susan Brown told the Huffington Post that “the rising number of couples opting for cohabitation could be the reason” as well. According to 2012 Census data and reported by the Huffington Post, “the number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled since the 1990s, from 2.9 million in 1996 to 7.8 million in 2012.” This is due in part to a shift in cultural attitude toward unmarried couples living together—what used to be considered “living in sin” is now more often thought of as a viable and financially-sound alternative to marriage. According to the USA Today and data from the Census Bureau, 7.8 million unmarried couples were living together in 2012. “Between 1990 and 2012,” reports USA Today, “the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1 percent to 11.3 percent.”

Unmarried people looking to cohabit can still establish legally binding ground rules for living together and can spell out their respective financial obligations for covering rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other day-to-day living expenses by entering into a written cohabitation agreement prepared by an attorney experienced in family law matters.

If you or someone you know is considering cohabitation, divorce, or remarriage, it could be worth sitting down with a qualified professional. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area family law attorney today.