Rights Of Unmarried Couples

On a personal level, the end of a long-term relationship between unmarried couples is as emotionally and psychologically difficult as a divorce. It also raises many of the same legal issues, questions and anxieties that spouses confront. Married or not, however, choosing the right lawyer remains as important as ever.

At Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C., we protect the rights of unmarried parents and partners throughout Northern Virginia, and we will help you navigate this transition as gracefully as possible. We are committed to making certain that you have all of the answers and information you need to make the decisions that are right for you at each point in the process.

Understanding, Asserting And Protecting Your Rights During A Split

The legal process of divorce is focused on addressing issues of child custody, visitation, financial support and property division. It is important to recognize that "not being married" does not necessarily limit your rights with respect to these issues.

  • Child custody and visitation: While it may be necessary for unmarried fathers to legally establish paternity first, Virginia courts recognize that the best interests of children are served by enabling both parents to have a healthy and active role in the children's lives. The factors used to determine custody in a divorce are also applied in cases that involve unmarried parents. It is also important to note that courts cannot give undue presumption or preference that favors either mothers or fathers when awarding custody or visitation.
  • Child support: The guidelines and factors used by Virginia courts when making child support determinations in a divorce are also used to determine child support amounts for unmarried parents.
  • Property division: The law of "equitable distribution" applied to property division issues in a divorce is not used to settle property issues between unmarried cohabitants. This does not mean that you do not have property rights or interests in assets that you and your partner accumulated over the course of the relationship. These issues can often be resolved by mutual agreement, but can also be brought before a court through a civil law procedure known as a partition action.

To schedule a confidential appointment with an experienced family law attorney at Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C., call our Fairfax office at 703-591-7475 or contact us online.