When long-term relationships end it can sometimes be an unfortunate crash course in the legal difference between marriage and cohabitation. Couples who marry legally obtain tax breaks, inheritance rights, and various spousal benefits including health insurance. Marriage also confers certain legal rights to property and support in the event of divorce.
Should the union end, spouses have a right to divide their property under New Jersey’s equitable distribution law, which can apply to their home or their acquired property including retirement accounts. Spouses also have the right to receive support in the form of alimony should the spouse be able to show the need for it.
Unmarried partners do not have these same rights, which can cause a great deal of stress and turmoil if the relationship ends. However, the law does provide a way for these couples to take steps to avoid catastrophe and safeguard themselves.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.