Focus: Unmarried couples dealing with post-dissolution concerns

“It’s helpful to get married, if you want to get divorced.”

Those are the words of one person, who, like many millions of other Americans, was involved in a non-married relationship with a partner that produced children. When the couple decided to split after years of being together, they found themselves at a loss as to how to proceed regarding child custody, visitation, child support, property division and myriad other matters.

“It was weird, it was strange,” said the man, a filmmaker. “We were just winging it from day to day with the kids.”

A growing number of couples across the country, including in Georgia, are having children out of wedlock and finding themselves in what one commentator calls “relationship limbo” when they decide to go separate ways.

“[W]ith kids in the picture, breaking up has become that much messier,” notes another writer on the subject.

That realization has led many couples to assign a value to marriage that they did not posit when they first began a relationship.

“I understand the value of marriage,” says the filmmaker now, “because the commitment is on paper and there’s a legal process to getting out of it.”

Many other people have expressed similar sentiments, noting that, without a divorce process and the involvement of an experienced attorney, dealing with complex dissolution-related matters can seem almost insuperably difficult.

The legality attaching to marriage can provide for a greater certainty of obtaining needed protections if a union fails, such as alimony and an equitable distribution of assets.

And, of course, far greater certainty attaches to important child-related matters such as custody, support and enforcement of parental obligations.

Source: The New York Observer, “No divorce is the new divorce: Moms and dads navigate messy breakups in marriage-less world,” Rose Surnow, March 19, 2013

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