When married couples separate with the intention of making it permanent, a divorce almost always follows. That is because the law recognizes the legal relationship known as marriage. In order to terminate that legal relationship, a marital dissolution proceeding, otherwise known as a divorce, is required. As one Judge once told me, the Court has a monopoly on divorces. If you want to terminate your marriage and get divorced, you have to go through the Court system.
Of course, if you are in a romantic relationship with someone, but not married, should you break up, you aren’t required to go through the court system to formalize the break up in the same way that married couples are. The law never recognized your relationship in the first place. You just simply aren’t in a relationship anymore. Other than perhaps changing your relationship status on Facebook, there’s nothing more that you need to do.
But that doesn’t mean that when unmarried couples break up that they don’t face some of the same issues as married couples. The most common example is children. You will still have to determine issues like legal custody, physical custody, parenting time, and child support.
Or at least you should. Sometimes unmarried couples break up and never go through court proceedings to determine custody, parenting time, and child support issues. Instead, they reach informal agreements on when the kids are with Mom and when the kids are with Dad or whether child support will be exchanged. So long as both parties honor these informal agreements, there’s really no reason why they can’t operate this way.
Problems arise, though, when the parties no longer agree. Whatever informal agreements the parties may have been operating under are just that – informal agreements. They aren’t enforceable. They aren’t binding. By operation of law, the mother has default custody of the children unless and until a Court proceeding is commenced. Only then is the father’s right to parenting time recognized.
So, if you have children, were never married to the other parent, and are no longer in a relationship with that person, you have some decisions to make. If everything is working out fine and you don’t feel a need to go to Court to formalize anything, that’s great. More power to you. For your sake, hopefully, everything continues that way until the children become adults.
But understand that you are walking on thin ice, especially if you are the father. If you are having disagreements with the other parent, you may have to start a Court proceeding, which could take some time.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.