More and more Connecticut long-term, committed romantic partners are choosing not to marry. It’s important to know the impact this decision has on your rights and responsibilities to each other and your children – including in the event that you break up. There’s no common law marriage in Connecticut, so long-term couples do not have the same financial rights as married spouses. In other words, there’s no property division or alimony for unmarried partners. That said, a cohabitation agreement can help secure some financial protections for partners. If you have children together, you do have the same child support, custody, and parenting rights that you would, were you married. An important caveat is that if you are not biologically related to your child, you may not have parental or visitation rights without completing an adoption. Couples may choose not to marry for financial, philosophical, political, or religious beliefs. Whatever your reasons, Connecticut unmarried couple lawyers can help you understand your options and help you design and protect your future.
LEGAL RIGHTS IF YOUR RELATIONSHIP BREAKS DOWN
When unmarried partners break up, there are various issues to address and resolve. Mediation and collaborative law options present unique opportunities for unmarried partners to reach creative resolutions outside of court. Freed Marcroft’s lawyers help unmarried partners in Connecticut:
- Develop parenting plans
- Resolve child custody disagreements
- Determine child support
- Implement the cohabitation agreement
- Explore alternative legal options when a cohabitation agreement isn’t in place
COHABITATION AGREEMENTS FOR UNMARRIED COUPLES
In Connecticut, there’s no relationship recognition for long-term partners. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived together – there’s no common law marriage. In other words, no matter how long you’ve been together, they never acquire the rights to property division or alimony and spousal support that exist when married spouses divorce.
However, Connecticut courts do recognize cohabitation agreements, so couples can memorialize their financial intentions by entering into a formal cohabitation contract. It’s best to finalize your cohabitation agreement before you move in together, but if you didn’t, generally speaking, the sooner the better. Typically, these agreements address rights and obligations pertaining to financial support (somewhat akin to alimony or spousal support), or how property will be divided in the event the relationship ends.
Parenting plans often include elements like parenting time, legal decision-making authority, child support, and rules around how parents will communicate about their child. Most Connecticut parents have both joint physical and joint legal custody. With joint legal custody, both parents share the ability to make decisions for the children. Despite the common myth to the contrary, there is often child support when there’s joint physical custody – even when kids spend equal time with each parent.
Parents always have the opportunity to agree on custody and visitation. These parenting plans are reached via negotiation in litigated divorces or in litigation alternatives like mediation and collaborative divorce. When parents can’t agree, it’s a contested custody case. In a contested custody litigation, the court considers multiple factors to determine what’s in the child’s best interest, and rules on custody and visitation. Freed Marcroft’s Connecticut unmarried parents lawyers will explain the-ins and-outs of the parenting and child support options for you and your kids.
CHILD SUPPORT FOR UNMARRIED PARENTS
Child support stems from parents’ duty to support their children. The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines contain a mathematical formula to determine child support. But that’s not the end of the story. Importantly, courts can “deviate” from the default child support calculation. If you are currently paying or receiving child support and there has been a substantial change in circumstances, you may also be able to get a Post Judgment child support modification. Your Freed Marcroft legal team will help you understand the ins-and-outs of child support and will design a child support strategy individualized to you, your goals, and your family.