Legal Issues for Unmarried Couples - Attorneys in Lexington, KY

There are numerous legal issues that unmarried couple face, all of which should be discussed with a knowledgeable attorney. The following are just some of the issues to be aware of:

Child Related Issues

Unmarried couples who have children together and separate face many of the same issues as couples who are divorcing. These issues include custody, timesharing (visitation), child support, health insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses, dependency exemptions, extracurricular activities, and relocation. There is usually little difference in how the Courts approach these child issues, regardless of whether the parties have been married to each other or not. What is different is that married couples generally cannot divorce until after they have resolved these issues. Unfortunately, there is nothing stopping an unmarried couple from splitting before these issues are resolved and this can cause major problems. Unmarried couples need to make sure they secure legal documents to address these issues.


Married couples have certain rights with respect to property and the Court will divide the property as part of their divorce action. Unmarried couples do not have set rights, like married couples. There are a variety of solutions an unmarried couple can use to make sure their rights are protected, all of which should be discussed with an experienced attorney.

The ideal situation is that unmarried couples enter into a written agreement, such as a cohabitation agreement, that lays out clearly their plans as to property and support obligations. A cohabitation agreement is very similar to the prenuptial agreement some couples signs prior to marrying.

Sometimes unmarried couples make oral or verbal agreements. It is hard to prove in court that an agreement that is not in writing should be enforced and so such verbal or oral agreements are not recommended.

Death and Probate

Kentucky law has very clear rules about who inherits your property if you die. If you are married, your surviving spouse has certain rights. In contrast, there are no special rules to protect the rights of the surviving partner of an unmarried couple. This could result in undesirable results, particularly for a couple who have been together any appreciable length of time. It is critical that unmarried couples engage in estate planning with a skilled attorney that includes drafting their wills (to address property and other issues), living wills (to address end of life decisions), and powers of attorney (to address who will make health care decisions and financial decisions of an incapacitated partner).

Probate Information

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