What are your rights to business assets if you’re unmarried?

Newport Family Law & Mediation Group

These days, fewer couples are getting married, but many are still purchasing property and going into business together. This can make breakups more complicated than ever before. According to California’s Family Code and case law, property that is shared between a married couple is known as community property. But what happens when unmarried couples want to dissolve financial or property agreements once they are no longer in a relationship or one partner passes away?

Marvin vs Marvin

Unmarried couples who are committed to each other often make plans to go into business together, build financial security together and take care of one another. In the Marvin vs Marvin case tried in California Supreme Court, commercial principles associated with non-intimate business partners also apply to business partners who are not married but in a romantic relationship. This treats the division of money and property as a business law issue instead of a family law issue since business partners should not have to give up their commercial rights due to the personal nature of their relationship.

Evaluating cases using the Marvin theory

Since asset division for unmarried couples doesn’t technically fall under family law, it can be challenging for a financial advisor or attorney to prove the validity of either party’s claims. Lawyers should not be dismissive about certain claims based on the personal nature of the defendant and plaintiffs. Instead, these attorneys must refer to regulations for suitable business practices. Gifts, goods and services are assessed to determine whether these things were given as part of a business deal, as gifts or in exchange for other favors.

If you’re a California resident and you need legal advice about dividing a business or assets between yourself and a former romantic partner, contact an experienced lawyer to find out how to receive the business assets you’re entitled to. A lawyer may help you understand your rights and options.

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