Back in the days, couples have to get married before they can be considered as husband and wife and have kids. Nowadays, it has become the norm for unmarried couples to live under one roof and bear children. Apparently, this kind of set-up, also called “domestic partnership” or “living-in”, is their way to test if they are ready to settle down for good before they get married and level up their marital status.

Living-in is also said to prevent the occurrence of costly divorce in case their relationship turns out to be incompatible. Hiring divorce lawyers is one thing. Going through the tedious process of divorce – which can drag on to months or even a year – is another. Plus, there are some people who admit not believing in marriage and that they consider each other their spouse sans the papers.

Parting ways

It is a universal truth that problems among couples are very much common, married or not. It is up to them how they are going to work on their differences and keep their relationship intact. Unfortunately, a lot of couples still end up parting ways at some point whether married, in a domestic partnership, or as boyfriend-girlfriend.

Break-ups can be devastating. More so if married couples ended up in divorce and have to call family lawyers to deal with the tedious process. The feeling may also be mutual for couples in a domestic partnership. However, are child support and alimony valid for unmarried ex-couples? How will child custody be in such cases?

Do unmarried spouses entitled for alimony?

There is such a thing as palimony. It is similar to alimony but applicable for unmarried couples who have separated. Palimony also works like alimony that is given to the unmarried partner as part of financial support after cohabiting for quite some time. You can consult family lawyers for more details regarding this issue.

Palimony usually involves giving out monthly financial support to your ex-partner following a break-up. It can be in the form of monthly payment or a lump sum amount. However, it is better to know whether your state you are currently living in allow giving out palimony because rules about it may vary from state to state.

For example, the state of California allows palimony even if there is no written document that will justify the request and had only previously agreed upon by both parties verbally and through “actions”. However, a verbal agreement between the former partners may not be enough to be granted palimony and hence may need written documents to support the claim.

However, some important factors may be considered in awarding palimony as would be suggested by spousal support lawyers. Among these factors include:

  • The income difference between the partners
  • Any adjustments were done by either partner to support the other in his/her personal endeavors (ex. giving up work to stay at home and take care of the children, putting the other partner to school)
  • Long-term cohabitation (ex. living together for 10 years or more)

How about child custody and support?

Whether married or in a domestic partnership, your responsibility as a parent to your children should not change. Even if your relationship with your ex-partner ended in a sour note, the welfare of your children should come first. The question is how you are going to divide your time and resources for your children following your break-up with your ex-partner.

Since there is no divorce involved, such matters should be discussed between both of you. As much as possible, remain civil with your ex-partner especially when talking about child support and custody. In some cases, you may need mediation or counseling to meet a compromise between both of you.

Like in divorce, both parents, even unmarried, have the main responsibility of taking care of their children. It is also a good idea to hire child support lawyers to help you with this concern. Visitation schedules, custody, and financial support should be considered in such cases. Then again, it may vary from state to state so you should consult child support lawyers regarding this.


Some couples do not believe in marriage and instead opt for cohabitation. Regardless of marital status, relationship problems are always constant. It’s a matter of how you would handle such situations as a couple. Top-rated divorce lawyers in Fairfax VA also suggest preparing written agreements that will protect your property and everything else in case you do break up in the end.