What happens to property after unmarried or cohabitation couples break up?

Jul 5, 2018 | Family Law

A previous post on this blog talked about how unmarried couples in Rockford do not have recourse to divorce or divorce-like procedures should they split up and need to divide their property. This is because Illinois law does not recognize such a procedure.

Instead, these couples must rely on things like wills and other legal documents, jointly held accounts and other property, holding real estate as joint tenants, insurance policies, 401(k)’s and other accounts, and the like to make sure that each of them gets a fair share of the property. Incidentally, this exercise is also important for estate planning, even among couples who are married.

If the couple has been careful with how they legally title their property and debts, then they may accomplish what amounts to a 50-50 split should their relationship end. If, on the other hand, they have not done so, and one person legally holds a lot more of the property than the other person, then the result can be that one person winds up with the short end of the stick.

Some couples decide to solve this problem by creating a contract between themselves which, much like a pre-nuptial agreement, explains in detail exactly how their property will be divided. However, even if no such agreement exists, a person who would otherwise get shortchanged may have some legal arguments available that will allow a fair share of the couple’s property, particularly if the couple has been with each other for a long time.

Making these types of arguments may require the assistance of an experienced Illinois family law attorney.