Where the subject of property is concerned, the law treats unmarried couples as separate individuals. This means they have no special rights or responsibilities if their relationship ends. If you plan to buy property together, you will need to decide how you will own the property: either as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common.
Joint tenants share the ownership of the property equally. This means that when one owner dies, the other owner automatically takes over the deceased owner’s share. This is also known as “right of survivorship.”
If you choose to be tenants-in-common, you and your partner will each own a distinct share of the property. For example, if you contribute 40% of the purchase price and your partner contributes 60%, and your partner dies, you will not have automatic rights to their 60% share of the property. It will simply become part of their estate.
In cases where a home is bought jointly and the relationship ends, property division may be based on a 50/50 split upon separation. However, if the home is only in one person’s name yet the other party made contributions to the mortgage and maintenance, there could be an ugly battle upon separation. Basically, when a property is solely owned by one party, it will remain that person’s property unless the other party can prove that there was a mutual intention to share in its value.
If you have questions about how to separate jointly held assets in a cohabitation situation, consult with a Colorado Springs family lawyer. An attorney can also help you draft a mutually acceptable cohabitation agreement that will protect your interests in the event of separation or death.