Unmarried Couples and Homeownership in California

It is increasingly common for individuals in committed relationships to live together and share property without getting married. In many cases, ending such a relationship is much simpler than ending a marriage. This is especially true in California, where community property guidelines can make the property division aspect of a divorce more difficult to settle than in other states.

However, when the ownership of certain property is disputed, or if two partners have different understandings or expectations surrounding their respective contributions to the household, dividing up property can prove very difficult. This is especially true when it comes to homeownership if the couple is fortunate enough to own real estate. Whereas a married couple may each have claim to value in the home regardless of which partner’s name is on the title and mortgage, this is not necessarily the case for those cohabitating outside of marriage.

When an unmarried couple buys a home jointly, both parties generally have an equal claim to the value of the home. If, however, the home is only in the name of one party, the non-owning party may have a more difficult time securing a fair division of assets when the relationship ends. This usually requires some sort of written acknowledgment of shared value, signed by both parties.

if you and your partner are ending your relationship and you have concerns about the property implications this may have for you, be sure that you fully understand the legal options that you have available and the lengths you must go to in order to use them. An experienced attorney can guide you through this complex process and help ensure that you do not overlook important opportunities and protections as you move from one season of life and into the next.

Source: FindLaw, “Unmarried Couples and Property – Basics,” accessed March 20, 2018

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