Individuals who live together and who do not marry do not automatically receive the same legal protections as married couples. Registered domestic partners do not receive all the same rights as married couples under federal law and under the laws of other states. If partners want to share some of the same legal rights afforded to married couples, they must adequately document that intent by signing the necessary documents.
LGBT couples and heterosexual couples who live together and are not married should consult with an attorney to see what documents may be needed in order to make sure that a partner would be able to maintain all parental rights with regards to the partners' children and to visit and make decisions for an injured or incapacitated child or partner if something occurred in Oregon or in another state.
Our knowledgeable family law attorneys can help you explore your legal options such as:
- Cohabitation agreements can help partners plan for how real property and other assets may be acquired, how bills will be paid during the parties' relationship, and how assets will be divided if the parties' relationship ends.
- Wills and/or trusts should be created in order to ensure that the partners' wishes for how assets should be divided at one partner's death are protected. A financial power of attorney can be created in order to assure that a partner can handle the other partner's finances if he or she becomes ill or incapacitated.
- Documents must be signed in order to make sure that partners are able to visit the other partner in the hospital if that partner should become ill, and a medical advance directive should be prepared to ensure that a partner can make health care decisions for the other partner if he or she becomes ill or injured.
- LGBT couples who intend to raise children together face special challenges. Even if one partner gives birth to the partners’ children, the partners must take steps to ensure the legal rights and obligations of the non-biological parent partner with regard to the children. Regardless of the parties’ intent, same-sex couples who have children together (whether or not they are married) should consider taking special precautions to safeguard both parents ability to care for and make decisions for joint children.
Obtain Advice on Planning for Your Family's Future
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer regarding cohabitation agreements, adoption and other matters for unmarried couples in Oregon or Washington, please contact us online or call (503) 641-7990 at our Portland law office.