The number of unmarried couples has been increasing in the past decades, as more and more people decide to live together — often for years — before getting married. Much can happen during this time, from accumulating property and opening up joint bank accounts to buying a house together and having children. However, unlike those who are married, these couples face a unique set of issues if the relationship ends.
Unmarried couples do not automatically have some of the protections that going through divorce proceedings offers. There is no automatic division of the assets, which can create a lot of gray area as far as property division and who is entitled to what.
Things can get especially complicated when children are involved in these scenarios. Custody cases between unmarried couples can present a significant challenge to the father unless paternity has already been established. In these cases, the man must be legally declared to be the children's father — usually by taking a DNA test — before being able to fight for custody or visitation rights.
If you are preparing to end one of these relationships — or already have — it's important to talk with a Maryland family law attorney about your options and the different paths forward. It's common for people in these situations to assume that there are no legal guidelines or boundaries since they were not married, but this is not always the case. At the law office of Steven J. Gaba, we can help you prepare for your court case and get a full understanding of the laws.