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Even though we’re not married, can I still get anything from him/her if we split up?

Cohabitation is very common now among unmarried couples, where some couples live together for several years without marrying. Although a minority of states still recognize “common law marriages” (i.e. granting the same legal rights and obligations of married couples to unmarried couples), most states do not. Nevada ceased recognizing common law marriages in 1943. However, even if you are not married or a registered domestic partner, you may still have some rights against your partner.

Nevada is a community property state, meaning each spouse in a marriage generally has a 50% interest in all property acquired after getting married. Courts have applied this principle to cohabiting unmarried couples, though the decision hinges on circumstances such as proof of the couple’s intent and conduct. One of the best ways to document intent is through an agreement. Although a cohabitation agreement is not required to seek relief from the court, it clears up any possible ambiguity or discrepancy between what both partners may say, absent any other evidence. A cohabitation agreement can spell out terms much like a prenuptial agreement, such as how joint property and expenses would be divided between the couple, or any monetary gifts or payments. A court can enforce this contract just like any other contract. Asking for the equivalent of alimony, however, is pretty much a worthless endeavor if you're not married.

That being said, if you want to ensure you are not subjecting yourself to possible claims by your partner in the event of a break up, you should try to document all intents and arrangements now. For instance, you can do the following: sign a cohabitation agreement (even though most couples probably would not think to do one and like a prenuptial agreement, asking your partner to do one might feel awkward!); keep all funds separate instead of in joint accounts, or try to avoid pooling together for purchases or expenses, unless you clearly document how you intend to divide the property/debt between you in the event of a split; document all the funds you put into the relationship and towards purchases, along with your intent (e.g. whether it’s a loan or a gift); and avoid putting both persons on a title if you wouldn’t truly want both of you to own it, although doing so may not be conclusive against you. In other words, just try to keep as much documentary evidence as possible. Even if you feel a break up would be civil or never happen, it doesn’t hurt to plan for the worse!