Should Unmarried Couples Get a Lawyer When They Separate in Tennessee?
An experienced family lawyer makes the process easier
Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were together for more than 20 years, but they were never married. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together for more than 34 years, but they have never married. These two couples aren’t just Hollywood anomalies – they represent many couples who live together, raise children together, and do everything else together – except get married. Problems arise when they decide to call it quits. In some states, they can go to court and sue for their share of assets, as well as spousal support. But in Tennessee, these couples have no such rights.
Without rights, should these couples even bother hiring a lawyer? Would the courts even grant them any of their requests? Well, the answer, as in many areas of law, is that it depends.
You should always at least consult a divorce lawyer to explore what legal options you may have. The longer you were together, the more likely that you enmeshed your finances or became parents together, giving you some rights. That doesn’t mean that if you shared a checking account that you deserve palimony (something Tennessee doesn’t grant) or that if you had children together you will get support beyond what the court requires for the children. But if you lived together, you may have purchased a home together, using both of your money and putting both of your names on the deed. Or you may have started a business together, sharing duties and the profits. Or you may have co-signed on a new car together. In cases like these, you are entitled to a fair division of the assets.
Unmarried couples basically enjoy protections under contract law, not marriage laws. That means that anywhere you can prove that there was a contract – either through a written document or some sort of other evidence – you will likely have legal protections. The problem is that many people trust their partners when they are in the relationship, taking the other person’s word and sense of honor to get what is fair. When the relationship unravels, one partner may not feel so honorable and may want to take whatever they can for themselves, both out of greed and spite.
Instances where you may have some legal rights through contract or family law include:
- Buying a personal home or rental properties
- Buying a car
- Starting or investing in a business
- Opening investment accounts together
- Buying expensive personal goods, such as jewelry or art
- Having children together
It is important that you have documentation showing ownership in assets or showing that you paid money to acquire them, not just that you paid money toward joint living expenses.
As an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer, I help couples obtain the child custody and support orders they desire, as well as help them try to achieve a fair division of assets. I help clients who were legally married and those who just live together. With unmarried clients, I work to gather the evidence to prove their legal claims to assets. I explore every legal option to try to help them protect what they have built with their former partner, even if the relationship itself crumbled. Call my office today at (615) 791-8511 or use the secure online form to schedule a free consultation. I am here to help.