What rights do unmarried partners have during their relationship and what is the extent of their rights during separation?
Consult our Family Law Attorneys who have the knowledge to help you navigate the rights and responsibilities of your Unwed Relationship in New Jersey
Over the past decades, the incidence of couples choosing to live together without getting married has increased substantially. However, rights for non-married couples continue to be few and far between, which has an impact on couples who separate and are not afforded the same rights as married couples obtaining a divorce.
Is common law marriage a thing in New Jersey?
No. There are only eight states that still legally honor common law marriage, and New Jersey is not one of them. Nor is there a certain number of years after which a domestic partnership is afforded the same legal protections traditional marriages (and divorces) have.
What rights do traditionally married couples have that unwed couples do not?
Any credible attorney will tell you the myriad reasons it is wise to get a marriage license if you are in a long-term relationship. The main legal benefits married couples enjoy that domestic, unwed partners do not are tax benefits. When a couple files taxes jointly, they have access to such tax credits as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child, and Dependent Care Tax Credit, if the couple has children, as well as write-offs for adoption expenses if applicable. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit both allow parents paying for their child’s education to enjoy more tax savings to help lower the financial burden of a college education.
Long-term couples who work together in a joint business are highly encouraged to make their partnership legal in New Jersey because they are then eligible to apply through federal tax law for what is called family partnership. Under family partnership status, income earned through the business can be divided among family members.
In addition to tax benefits, New Jersey couples with a marriage license enjoy employment benefits. For example, a married person can receive health benefits from their spouse’s employer, and they can be awarded time off to take care of a spouse if they are ill. None of these benefits are available to unwed couples. Additionally, an unmarried partner has no claim to the workers’ compensation benefits, retirement benefits, or unpaid wages of their partner if they pass away.
Many more legal benefits to getting married exist, but the rights that cause the most issue for unwed couples when they separate regard the separation of assets. Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples when it comes to estate planning: they aren’t eligible to inherit a portion of their partner’s estate, for example; and they don’t receive tax breaks on property they plan to leave their long-term partner after their death, the way that married couples do.
How is custody handled for unmarried couples?
Custody is one area of New Jersey law handled for unmarried parents in the same way it is handled for married parents. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part handles all custody arrangement procedures, child support orders, and parenting time agreements in exactly the same way they are handled in a traditional divorce.
What is palimony and how does it apply to unwed couples?
‘Palimony’ is a legal term for providing financial support that a person is legally required to give their long-term partner in a separation of the unmarried couple. It is a non-traditional, though legally enforced, version of alimony. Palimony is one of the few areas of New Jersey law that is directed specifically at unmarried couples. While palimony is based on alimony and is essentially the same, there are large differences between the two in the eyes of New Jersey Superior Courts.
While the payment of alimony is often one of the byproducts of divorce, palimony is only ordered by the Court in the case that there was a written agreement between the couple stating that one partner would provide financial support for the other in the long term. Before 2010, this agreement could be implied. Still, in the last decade, New Jersey Courts have determined that, as it regards unmarried couples, some written agreement must be provided to allow for such order of financial support.
You deserve your fair share in a separation, whether or not you were married. As such, you must hire a skilled family law attorneywho understands your rights and can assist with the process of asserting them.
Contact our Family Lawyer Assisting Unwed Couples for a free consultation
If you are separating from your unmarried partner and seek palimony or other legal or financial support, need to resolve an issue with children who are the product of the relationship, or require assistance with property that you two may have shared throughout the relationship, we can help.
At Bronzino Law Firm, led by seasoned New Jersey Attorney Peter J. Bronzino, we successfully represent clients in towns like Mantoloking, Island Heights, Seaside Park, Allenwood, Toms River, Sea Bright, Berkeley, Long Beach Island, Monmouth Beach, and around Monmouth and Ocean County.
Contact us online or at our Brick, NJ office today at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual matter, as we are prepared to walk you through the process of handling all of your family law concerns.