Unmarried Partner Litigation
The rules governing these cases follow the rules for civil litigation as opposed to divorce and legal separation cases. Many strategies in such cases rely on contractual remedies with origins in English common law. For example, in 2000 the Colorado Supreme Court allowed a claim by a man who contributed towards the down payment and construction costs, as well as design and drafting services for the home, which he shared with his girlfriend. Later, he deeded his interest in the home to the girlfriend, leaving her as the sole owner, and she eventually evicted him from the property. He was allowed to sue his ex for unjust enrichment, a centuries-old equitable claim in contract law, based on his financial and in-kind contributions to the home. Other legal theories in these non-marriage cases may include joint venture, breach of fiduciary duties and implied covenants, unjust enrichment, conversion, replevin, estoppel, and breach of implied contract.
A civil court in Colorado may also divide joint property between unmarried former partners using its partition powers, an equitable remedy. Partition typically assigns the equity in real property in shares to the various owners based on contribution. Although rare, parties to a partition action may also request that that the court literally divide property into separate tracts. In a partition case, judges do not necessarily have to divide property equally among all owners, so the owners can make arguments regarding who contributed how much money towards the property, who put more sweat equity into the property, who paid liens such as mortgages or other obligations, etc. in arguing how the equity in the property should be divided.
Given the complexities of such litigation, creative settlements are favored. The attorneys at Wells Family Law are well versed in the intricacies of unmarried partner litigation and are here to help you survive your break up whether married or unmarried.