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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
678-208-9200Available 24/7

Cohabitation and Palimony

 Posted on January 13, 2015 in Children

cohabitation and palimonyIn recent decades, it has become more popular and widely accepted for unmarried couples to live together. In some instances, these couples go on to marry. In others, these couples choose to never marry or to end their relationship. In the latter scenario, problems concerning the couple's shared property and financial obligations to each other often arise.

Property Division

Legally, unmarried couples are treated as separate individuals in matters regarding property division after a breakup. Unmarried couples who decide to purchase property together must decide whether they want to own it as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common. Both of these options give each partner legal rights to the property as well as responsibilities toward its maintenance and taxes.

It is not a good idea for one partner to be the sole owner of a jointly-held piece of property. If a couple in this situation decides to separate, it can be extremely difficult for the non-owner to prove his or her right to the property. Do not allow yourself to fall prey to this type of situation – if you contribute to the purchase, mortgage, or upkeep of your home or rental property, make sure your name is on its title of ownership.

Joint Tenants

In a joint tenancy, all ownership of a property is shared equally among the property's tenants. If one partner dies, the other assumes his or her share of the property's ownership.


When a couple chooses this option, each party has a designated share of the property's cost and responsibility. If one partner pays 60 percent of the costs associated with the home and the other pays 40 percent, each partner's right to the property following their relationship's end reflects his or her financial investment in it. It is important to note that with a tenants-in-common agreement, the surviving party does not retain his or her partner's share of the property after his or her death. Instead, it becomes part of the deceased's estate and handled accordingly by his or her beneficiaries.

Palimony Rights

Illinois outlawed common law marriage in 1905. In a common law marriage, an unmarried couple that lives together may receive some of the same rights that married couples enjoy when dividing property. A related issue is that of palimony, or financial maintenance for an unmarried partner after a relationship ends. An individual may not receive palimony in Illinois.

Child Support and Custody for Unmarried Parents

Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, an unmarried father must prove his paternity to receive rights to his child. These rights include the right to seek custody of the child, the right to seek child support if he becomes the child's primary caretaker, and the child's mother's right to seek child support from the father if she is the primary caretaker.

Once paternity is established, the court uses the same methods to determine a child custody arrangement that it uses to create one for divorcing parents.

Family Attorneys in DuPage County

Contact us at 630-472-9700 to discuss your rights as an unmarried individual further with one of the experienced DuPage County family attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. We can answer any question you have about your rights to your property and your children following your break up and guide you toward a productive solution.

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