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When unmarried couples split, determining finances is tricky

People in Texas know that when they are going through a divorce, there are issues that must be considered. For many parents, the most important one is the fate of the children. While people may have the best interests of the children at heart, child custody issues can weigh heavily on both parents and children.

Of course, when a marriage ends in divorce, there is little ambiguity about the fate of the children once all the paperwork has been completed: a child custody agreement spells out the details of who has the kids and at what times -- some people even draw up detailed schedules down to the minute, and figure out birthdays and holidays years in advance.

However, not all couples who have children together are married. And when those couples decide to split up, there is not a divorce blueprint for them to go by. Because there is no marriage, there is no divorce -- and thus no child custody agreement is required.

By the same token, there may not be a legal requirement for one parent to pay alimony or child support to the other. Many couples have agreements in place, but these are often informal and sometimes not even written down, let alone notarized and signed. Some experts in the field say the only way to ensure legal protection in these sorts of situations is to be married -- but, of course, it doesn't make sense to get married just for the sake of getting divorced.

Source: New York Observer, "No Divorce Is the New Divorce: Moms and Dads Navigate Messy Breakups in Marriage-less World," Rose Surnow, March 19, 2013

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