More American couples are choosing to cohabitate than ever before. Each couple has its own reasons for remaining committed (and living under the same roof) while temporarily or permanently forgoing the process of becoming legally married. In the end, it is simply important that each cohabitating couple understands the legal rights, responsibilities, and restrictions that accompany an unwed, cohabitating relationship. That way, each individual can make informed decisions about how to protect their interests. Speaking with an experienced attorney about the legal side of remaining unmarried will help to ensure that your decisions remain informed and legally supported.
There are legal limitations associated with this kind of arrangement. For example, unless each romantic partner explicitly names their significant other as a power of attorney for medical decisions, they may not be allowed to be at the other’s hospital bedside in the event of a medical emergency. However, there are some legal benefits associated with cohabitation, as opposed to marriage. For example, there are some tax benefits associated with this arrangement.
Tax Considerations for Unmarried Couples
There is a hidden “marriage penalty” within the tax code that tends to become increasingly significant the more that a couple makes. When a couple files jointly, they tend to pay more in taxes as their combined assets are increasingly taxed at higher rates than they would be if each individual filed separately. The alternative minimum tax exemption also favors individuals filing separately/lower overall incomes. When married people file jointly, they may be hit hard when calculating certain tax benefits. Similarly, certain deductions may have significantly less weight when married couples file their federal and state taxes jointly.
Legal Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about the legal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities associated with getting married and/or remaining unmarried, please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced family law attorney. The legal rights and obligations of couples are evolving as the American family evolves. Given that a record number of American adults is currently choosing to cohabitate with their romantic partners instead of pursuing marriage, it is likely that the benefits and challenges associated with unmarried long-term relationships will continue to evolve under the law at a rapid rate. It is partially for this reason that it is so important to consult with an experienced attorney about your legal situation instead of making decisions by default. Informed choices are less likely to lead to missed opportunities and regret.
Additionally, consulting with an attorney does not obligate you to take any legal action, so you should not feel shy about voicing your questions and concerns. Too often, individuals and families fail to consult attorneys until they are struggling with significant legal challenges. In reality, attorneys serve as excellent resources in a proactive capacity as well as in times of trouble. Please consider scheduling a consultation today in order to learn more about the legal consequences associated with the options available to you, your romantic partner and your family generally.