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Who Gets What When Breaking Up?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 03, 2012 10:02 AM

So, you and your significant other are breaking up. You're not married, so there will be no divorce lawyers involved. There are no kids, either. Things should be simple, but they're not.

He wants the car and you want it, too. And what about the big screen TV? Technically, you both paid for it.

Who gets the property when breaking up?

There's no easy answer to this one. It ultimately depends on who paid for what, whether an agreement existed and if there are any other important legal documents.

Let's start with the car. If he bought the car and she maintained it, both parties have some legal claim. But if the car was legally registered to him and him only, he has legal title. It's arguably his.

But if he ever agreed to give her the car, that may affect things -- but only if she has some evidence.

The plight of the big screen TV is a bit different because there is no maintenance involved. If he paid for it, it's his. If she paid for it, it's hers. If they both paid for it, then they've got a problem. The winning party will likely owe the other party half of the TV's value.

As for the items that someone had when he or she entered the relationship, it remains his or her property when breaking up. Unless there was an agreement otherwise.

Which brings us to the issue at hand. Couples only ask who gets property when breaking up when there was no written agreement. Before you move in with someone, or start to intertwine lives, consider drafting a cohabitation property agreement. You'll never have to wonder who gets what again.

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