While legal protections exist for married individuals that dictate how property will be divided and children will be provided for, couples in California who choose not to get married at all may have difficulties arise when they decide to split. Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of parents slipping up. A nonpartisan research center reports that half of children born to mothers who are under 30 years old have parents that are not married. This situation may make obtaining a fair amount of child support even more difficult.
By not having a union recognized by the state, parents are more susceptible to a difficult legal process. The divorce process is more concrete, and it offers a traditional method to determine matters such as child custody, child support and alimony. Couples who are not married do not have as clear of a process to go through. For example, family courts can provide income to stay-at-home parents to compensate for the time that they took away from careers to raise children when the couple was married. This same protection does not usually apply to couples who were not married.
Married couples also have protections when it comes to their fair share of the marital assets. Most states provide for equitable distribution of the marital assets. California is a community property state in which all income and assets that are acquired during the marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances, are considered part of the marital estate. Provisions can also be provided to couples for health insurance for both the spouse and the children. Additionally, children who are born to unmarried parents are more likely to be poor and in more dire need of child support than children born to married parents.
A parent who has children with another individual to whom they are not married may seek legal counsel from California family law attorneys. Discussing their particular situation may help these individuals learn about their rights as they pertain to child support and other important issues.
Source: New York Observer, “No Divorce Is the New Divorce: Moms and Dads Navigate Messy Breakups in Marriage-less World,” Rose Surnow, March 19, 2013