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Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Family Law, Uncategorized

Unmarried Couples Break up Tips

Unmarried Couples Break up Tips

Unmarried Couples Break up Tips

Jeff J Horn – Family Lawyer – Unmarried Couples

When unmarried couples break up there is no divorce.

Divorce is limited to dissolving marriages. However, when unmarried couples break up it feels like a divorce.  By and large, unmarried couples have the same range of issues to resolve.  Similar to divorce, Family Court Judges direct unmarried couples to mediation. Be ready to discuss these important issues.

Unmarried Couples Break up Issues

The Family Home


  1.  Are you renting? Owning?  Someone has to make a move.  Breaking up means separating.  Who will take over the lease? Alternatively, what does the unmarried couple break up mean to home ownership.
  2. You own the home together with your ex.  Most likely,  selling is the easy option. Selling means a clean break for both of you.  However, free chaining and buying out the other side may have benefits to you and your children.  remaining in the home for school purposes is a worthy objective.  Likewise,  economics may favor refinancing and buying out your ex.
  3. Warning:  avoid remaining partners with your ex.

I see and hear too many War Stories where both parties remain on the deed.  Soon enough, something goes wrong and all of the benefits of staying on the deed together erode in nasty fights and legal fees. 

 Unmarried Couple Break up – Child Custody and Parenting Time

  1. First, best interests of the children always apply.
  2.  Joint legal custody is the norm for unmarried couples.  High level,  joint legal custody means both parents participate in the major child custody decisions.  For example, major child custody decisions include Education, Health, travel and religion.
  3. Distinct from custody is parenting time. Parenting time is the schedule for the children and each parent. Oftentimes,  parties schedule parenting on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

 Unmarried Couple Break up – Child Support

  1. Child support is based on the New Jersey Court rules.   New Jersey family court judges  follow the child support guidelines.
  2.  What goes into the guidelines for unmarried couples? First,  the number and age of the children are input.  Second,  each party’s income.  Third,  any mandatory obligations of the parent such as union dues,  mandatory pension deductions and obligations to other families.  Fourth,  obligations specific to this family are included such as the children’s share of the health insurance premiums and child care expenses.
  3.  Family Court judges follow the child support guidelines. However,  you are free to deviate from the guidelines.

Other key issues  when Unmarried Couples Break up

  1.  If there are children,  life insurance may be required.  best practices,  have enough life insurance to cover child support and higher education.  Frequently,  the life insurance beneficiary is the child and the other parent is the trustee of the funds.
  2.  Child income tax deductions – IRS Rules direct that the parent who provides more than half of a child’s support takes the deduction.  Again,  you are free to negotiate this issue and  alternate the tax deduction associated with minor children.  Generally, Family Court judges follow the IRS rules.
  3.  Debts –  Untangle your debts as soon as possible. Sorry,  I know this can be painful. For example, a car is purchased and driven by Mom. The debt is in the name of the Dad. Mom either needs to refinance that Dad, give the car to dad [and the debt],  or sell the car.  Rarely, is it advisable to let your ex drive a car with the car loan in your name.
  4. Personal property –  Family Court judges leave personal property to the unmarried couple to work out. 

Do I need a family lawyer?

Family Court judges prefer you to have a lawyer. Your lawyer may litigate for you.  Alternatively, you may benefit from a consultation and not need counsel for the entire case. You will never know unless you do your homework.


Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

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