Marriage may simply not be the best option for some couples who live together due to their current living arrangements or lifestyles. For whatever reason, some people choose to cohabitate for decades without ever tying the knot. Sadly, too many of those couples come to realize after a breakup that they do not enjoy some of the same protections as their married counterparts.
A good example of this might be an unmarried couple who purchased a home together before deciding to split. The disposal of that shared property would be little more than a hiccup if that couple had been married. That’s because Arizona recognizes that married couples have an automatic shared interest in nearly all real property purchased while together. A partitioning of real property can be much more difficult for unmarried, cohabitating couples.
The good news is for those unmarried couples, there is an established legal method to gain similar protections under Arizona law. In most cases, this is accomplished through the formation of a domestic partnership agreement. The terms of such an agreement can be entirely up to you. For example, you could specify in your DPA which party would pay a particular bill each month. You could also predetermine which party would acquire ownership of items purchased together should you choose to break up with your partner at a later date.
Additionally, you should not despair if you and your partner did not form a DPA prior to your breakup. Arizona allows individuals with partial ownership in real property to petition a court to partition that land. Alternatively, your attorney can assist you in defending against such an action.
If you are still currently living with your partner, you may want to consider visiting with an Arizona family law attorney to help you draft a DPA. Your attorney can also help you petition the court for partition in cases where you and your partner have split before first establishing ownership contingencies of your real property.
Source: Arizona State Legislature, “12-1211. Compelling partition; complaint,” accessed June 04, 2015