Couples who are living together do not have the same rights to division of property as married couples. Married couples have a right to an equitable division of their property. Ohio Revised Code 3105.171 (R.C. 3105.171) gives married couples this right to an equal division of property, unless an equal division would be inequitable. Using R.C. 3105.171, the court determines which property is separate property and which property is marital property. Separate property that is commingled with marital property will remain separate property so long as it is traceable. Non-married couples could have the right of married couples if they meet the requirements of common-law marriage under Ohio Revised Code 3105.12 (R.C. 3105.12), which provides for common-law marriage only if common-law marriage occurred in Ohio prior to October 10, 1991, or in another state that recognizes common-law marriage. Outside of marriage, property division for unmarried couples tend to follow general rules of equity and fairness.
Courts will not award property to someone in a non-marital relationship simply based on the relationship. However, courts will award property based on contract principles. For example, if a non-married couple buys a house together, they will each be entitled to the value of their contributions. This means, if they both equally contributed to the purchase and payment of the house, they would be entitled to an equal division of the proceeds of a sale or partition of the house. If one person is keeping the other’s personal property from the other, the action of replevin could be used to force the person to give the property back. Property transferred in reliance on a promise to marry can be recovered on the theory of unjust enrichment. Joint bank accounts are usually divided based on the contribution of the parties.
Attorney Gigiano is a Wadsworth attorney in Medina County, Ohio. He also practices in Akron, Ohio and Summit County, Ohio, as well as Wooster, Ohio and Wayne County, Ohio. If you have questions about property division for unmarried couples or other questions you need answered by an experienced Wayne County divorce attorney in Wadsworth or Wadsworth child custody attorney in Medina County, please call Attorney Daniel F. Gigiano at 330-336-3330. Attorney Gigiano has the experience you need for property division for unmarried couples.