Franklin Divorce Lawyer Guides Unmarried Couples Separating

Working to get you an equitable share of property and child custody

Not everyone dreams of a white wedding. Many couples live together for decades without getting married, even though they live their lives in every other way like married couples – buying a home together, having children together, and sharing all their finances. Other couples do the same thing after being together for only a few years. In some states, these relationships would be recognized as common law marriages, and these couples would be given the same rights as married couples. But Tennessee does not recognize common law marriages, and it gives no rights to unmarried couples.

I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer, and I help clients who are navigating a separation if they have been unmarried. I fight to get my clients an equitable division of jointly-owned property, to separate business interests, to get the best child custody arrangement, to get the child support needed, and more. Tennessee may not grant you the same assumption of rights to your partner’s income or assets, but you still have rights to the things that you jointly-owned, such as property that you helped pay for or a business that you helped build. I’ll explore all legal options to help you get what you deserve.

Property and asset division for unmarried couples in Tennessee

When you get married, you have rights to an equitable share of marital property, and in some instances, an equitable share of assets your spouse owns. That means that even if a house is in your spouse’s name only, you could be entitled to half of the equity in it (or half the debt owed). But if you are not married, you have no rights to that property if your name isn’t on the deed or the mortgage. That’s why I always encourage my clients to get everything in their name or to have an agreement in writing. Because the only laws that govern asset division for unmarried couples are contract laws.

If your name isn’t on the deed or the mortgage, all may not be lost. It could be that you have been paying substantially toward the principal of the home, and an argument may be able to be made that you have an ownership share. We have to look at the paper trail and show what evidence we have that you have a legal right to the property. I search for the evidence needed to support your case, exploring every possibility for helping you get some compensation for the home you shared – and almost certainly helped pay for, maintain, and improve.

The same principles apply to other assets, such as automobiles, vacation properties, fine art, jewelry, or investment accounts. If your name is on any of these items, you have rights to an equitable share of them. If your name is not on these items, we will have to work to show some other way to prove you have a legal claim to them. Simply living together – no matter for how long – will not be sufficient. I fight to find every avenue to help you get a fair settlement after your split, reflecting what you put in through your labor or your income.

How is child custody and support determined for unmarried couples?

Child custody and support matters are handled the same way for unmarried couples as they are for married couples – assuming that both people are the biological parents of the child. If you are a step-parent or the non-biological parent in a same-sex marriage and did not legally adopt the child, you may not be granted custody or visitation.

What the court looks at when determining child custody and visitation matters is what is in the best interests of the child. So, if you and your partner were caring for a teenager who grew up with you since infancy, for example, you would likely be granted shared custody or visitation. I put together all the evidence to create the strongest case on your behalf, such as the time spent in the child’s life, the closeness of your relationship, and the ways in which you were involved, such as making medical decisions or volunteering at sport’s games.

Child support also has to be considered for biological or adopted children. The Tennessee child support guidelines govern computation of the child support. However, if your former partner was not the biological or adoptive parent, you will not be awarded child support. I’ll help you understand all the legal options after reviewing the specifics of your case. Where legal recourse is available, I will fight to get you the best outcome.

Work with an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer

Unfortunately, Tennessee law doesn’t grant unmarried couples the same rights as married couples. That doesn’t mean that you have no options but to lose everything you have built as a couple if you end the relationship. Call me, Judy A. Oxford, a dedicated Franklin divorce lawyer, to explore your options. Call my office at (615) 791-8511 or use the secure online form to schedule a free consultation. I work hard to help you get the best possible outcome.