Sunday, September 20, 2009
Living Together v. Marriage: Some Pros and Cons
Many Americans have always believed in "shacking up," as opposed to getting married. And the trend is presently away from marriage and toward "live-in" arrangements. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 5.5 million unmarried households in this country and, in 2005, unmarried households first started outnumbering married ones.
Now, I am not here to make moral judgments or to preach at you about what you should do. That is not the point of this humble blog about Georgia divorce law. You do as you choose to do!
But as a divorce lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, I just want you to consider some of the legal consequences of your decision! (You should also consult with a lawyer where you live about your rights). I am concerned about women who can get hurt, (legally), by live-in arrangements.
I often get telephone calls from women whose "live-in lovers" have left them and they don't know what to do. Frankly, there can be some tough legal issues for such women to address. For example, if you have chosen to live with "Sluggo," in a house he previously bought, then, if you never got married and you don't have a cohabitation agreement, then you may face the possibility of getting put out in the street. Also, you should consider the fact that, if you have kids with good old "Sluggo," (God forbid!), and you are not married, then, unless you take him to court through a paternity lawsuit, your kids are not legitimate and may not even be able to inherit from him. You also need to know that, at least in Georgia, common law marriage is no longer recognized, (at least for newer live-in relationships, since the latter 1990's), so it probably is no longer available to give you legal protection.
The list goes on and on! There are so many legal issues and problems faced by "live-in" lovers! There are tax issues, (you can't benefit from filing your tax returns together as a married couple), insurance issues, (you probably can't get on "Sluggo's" health insurance plan), and alimony issues, (if you break up, you aren't entitled to seek alimony or a property division).
I realize that there are some arguments in favor of shacking up, too! But the point here is that, before you get too starry eyed about moving in with that old romantic fool, "Sluggo," please just consider the legal consequences!
Maybe you should just get a nice dog instead!