However, before marriage, it is imperative that you address a variety of legal issues. By working with an attorney who is experienced in matrimonial law, you can be sure that your rights will be protected while setting yourself up for success in your ongoing relationship.
At Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd., our family law attorneys can help you understand and resolve any complications that may arise before you get married. We can also assist unmarried couples and help put protections in place that will provide security in a long-term relationship.
Legal Issues Prior to Marriage
Before getting married, both parties must be sure that any previous marriages have been terminated, either through divorce, annulment, or the death of the other spouse. Being married to more than one person is considered bigamy, which is a felony offense in Illinois. In addition, a person who knowingly marries a bigamist could face misdemeanor criminal charges.
To avoid any claims of bigamy or polygamy, spouses should take steps to address any issues related to previous marriages before they go ahead with tying the knot. If you have any concerns about completing the divorce process prior to getting remarried, our attorneys can help you address these issues. If necessary, we can help you locate a missing spouse or take steps to dissolve a marriage through publication when a former partner cannot be contacted.
Another issue that prospective spouses may wish to address is the need for a prenuptial agreement. This type of agreement can provide protections for spouses who may be going into a marriage, have children from previous relationships, or wish to decide how matters will be handled if divorce ever occurs or upon death. A prenuptial agreement can also protect you from an expensive divorce and spell out the terms of how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.
Unmarried Couples-Cohabitation Agreements and Partition Actions
Since marriage is a legal partnership, it provides spouses with a number of rights and protections. However, there are many cases in which a couple who are in a long term relationship may choose to live together without getting married. This may be done in anticipation of marriage or for a variety of personal or practical reasons. In these cases, unmarried partners should be aware that even though their relationship may function the same as a married couple, they will not enjoy many of the rights that would be afforded to legally married spouses.
If an unmarried couple chooses to end their relationship, they will not have the right to the equitable division of the property they own together, no matter how long their partnership lasted. In addition, a lower-earning partner will not be awarded spousal maintenance (alimony).
To address concerns about what might happen if you break up with your unmarried partner, our lawyers can help you create a cohabitation agreement. This type of legal agreement can make decisions about how matters will be handled if your relationship ends, providing you with the assurance that your rights will be protected.
It is not uncommon for unmarried couples to not only live together but to purchase homes together. So now you ask, what happens if you and your significant other purchase property together but you split up? We can reassure you that you will want to protect your rights and the money you invested by entering into an agreement prior to the purchase. If you do not have an agreement and you end the relationship, you may find yourself embroiled in a partition action. As detailed below, a partition action can be more emotionally charged and messier than a divorce. So how do you protect yourself? You enter into a contract with your partner before purchasing property together.
When two people who are not in a romantic relationship enter into a financial venture, buy property or start a business, they usually will enter into a contract. Couples in a relationship rarely enter into these type of contracts and regret it later.
If a couple did not enter into a formal written contract regarding property purchased and held in both parties’ names and there is a dispute, splitting up the property usually becomes problematic. Dividing a property between unmarried couples is not done in the domestic relations division. Depending on the county, it is usually filed in the chancery division and called a partition proceeding.
In a partition action, the legal action is filed in the county where the property is located. Essentially, the complaint will explain the nature of the property, the owners and interests involved. If one party put sweat equity into the property, that will be described as well. However, if you and your ex cannot reach an agreement, the court will orders the sale of property and allocates the proceeds to each party based on their respective interest after mortgages and liens are satisfied.
Whether you are planning to get married or want to ensure that you will be protected in a long-term relationship with your partner, the attorneys of Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd. can provide the legal help you need. Contact our office today by calling 312-341-0900.