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Unmarried Partners

There are wide ranges of legal services which may assist unmarried partners at the outset of a relationship.  It may be prudent to consider estate planning requirements to ensure that a client can transfer property to a person of his / her choice (whether by will, trust or lifetime gift) and to minimize the impact of any potential taxes.  At the outset of a relationship, the client(s) may want to sign a document which outlines issues such as the following:  their respective property ownership; how that property will be owned during the relationship; how new property purchases will be acquired during the relationship, how income will be held; allocating responsibility for paying expenses; how property and other assets will be allocated if the relationship ends; and, parenting issues for any minor children.  Also, there are a variety of issues to consider if partners are jointly purchasing real estate or if one party pays the mortgage payments on a jointly owned property.

There are many issues to consider if unmarried partners end their relationship.  All disputes concerning minor children must be pursued in a parental rights case typically, in the same manner as a divorce case.  Those issues include the allocation of parental rights, residency of the child(ren) and payment of child support.  However, most financial and real estate claims may need to be resolved in separate court cases.  Those cases may include a wide range of claims, including: a partition action (request to divide jointly owned real estate); unjust enrichment and quantum meruit; promissory estoppel; the dissolution of a business partnership; breach of express or implied contract terms; and, a breach of a fiduciary duty.  The range of financial claims may be so complicated and detailed that the parties will benefit from exploring a global settlement via mediation at an early stage in any pre-litigation negotiations or court proceedings.

We represent clients at every stage and venue within the legal system. As part of the present Maine court system, the great majority of family law cases are resolved without the need for a full trial. As such, we endeavor to prepare a case thoroughly from the outset and keep a constant review of the cost / benefit of pursuing each claim. The likelihood is that the majority of cases will be resolved via negotiated settlements rather than at trial. We have substantial experience in the compulsory mediation process and trial advocacy, and if the occasion requires, we have argued numerous appeals of family law cases to the Maine Supreme Court. 

Barry, Justin and Sally have each been prior recipients of the Hancock County Pro Bono attorney of the year award from the Volunteer Lawyer Project of the State of Maine.