Can I Get a Refund? Top 5 FAQs Unmarried Couples Ask After a Break Up

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Breaking up is hard to do. Fortunately for unmarried couples, it's a little bit easier. However, unmarried couples that disagree about how to divide their joint assets may find themselves in a different world than divorcing married couples.

Under the law, unless an unmarried couple has signed some sort of written agreement governing their finances, or outlining their obligations to each other, courts tend to treat disputes between unmarried couples similarly to an informal business partnership.

Here are 5 top questions asked by unmarried couples going through a break up.

1. Can I Get Alimony, or Palimony?

Generally, unless you and your ex had a written agreement that would provide for post break-up support payments, most courts are not going to order it. However, in California, palimony has been approved by the courts when there was only an oral agreement.

2. Who Keeps the House, Apartment, Car?

This can be tricky. Frequently, if there is only one person's name on the deed, lease, or title, the house, apartment, or car is going to go to the named individual. However, if both partners were paying for the item, then the other may be able to claim interest in the property and be paid back.

If both names are on the documents, then both individuals will have a right to the property (which could depend on their financial contribution). Typically, couples should work out the value of mutually owned assets and try to divide those evenly.

3. Can We Share Custody of Our Pet?

After a break up, although you may both love the pet you rescued together, only the registered owner will own your fur baby. Animals are treated like personal property under the law. However, it is not uncommon for pet custody to be shared after a breakup or divorce. In fact, some courts have even issued shared pet custody orders.

4. How Do We Separate Digital Assets?

When it comes to the shared data collected in the cloud, or even stored locally on your computers, game consoles, smart phones, tablets, or any other device, dividing this property may be impossible due to user agreements.

Generally, one person will keep an entire account. This means that an iTunes, or other digital media, account that is held in one person's name will generally stay with that person. However, a common arrangement is to export all the data from the account to allow the other party to have a copy.

5. Can I Change the Netflix Password?

Yes. If your ex wants to Netflix and chill, let them pay for their own account. Whoever was paying for any subscription services is free to change the subscription. If any passwords were shared on any accounts, after a break up, these should be changed immediately.

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