Cohabitating couples face tricky situations in breakups

Nowadays more and more couples are choosing to live together, buy a house and have children together, but are not making the choice to get married. So in situations where these couples break up, both exes find themselves having to file separate lawsuits to do things like divide up a home, but then another lawsuit to figure out child support, child custody and visitation.

According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, about 50 percent of divorce lawyers have seen some sort of increase in recent years in the number of people going to court to fight over issues related to children and finances. And, the number of people who are cohabitating has also been rising, with the latest census report claiming that 7.5 million men and women are now living together, compared to just 2.8 million in 1996.

In Missouri, one of the main issues surrounding cohabitation is that unlike other states, there is no common law marriage in the state, which means that regardless of how long two people have been dating and living together, no one is able to receive any kind of financial support after a breakup, and also may have quite a time trying to get back some of the money that was spent on shared finances.

Aside from difficulties in finances, parents may find themselves in tricky situations if they have a child out of wedlock. In those situations it’s very important for the father to file a paternity action, so that he can ensure that his rights as a father are preserved, and that if he needs to he can fight for primary or even shared custody.

Source:, “For live-in lovers, breaking up can be worse than a divorce,” Aisha Sultan, 16 March 2011

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