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Breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend

Breakups are usually difficult and unpleasant. What to do if you are not married but have a child, a mortgage or a dog together? Who owns the joint belongings and how to divide them?

Nešťastný muž, v pozadí sedí žena
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We have a child together – do we have to go to court?

If you were not married, are now separated and are parents of a minor child, you do not necessarily have to go to court. It will all depend on whether you are able to agree on the care of the child together. This is definitely an advantage for unmarried couples. This is because spouses who want to divorce have to go to court about the children even if they have agreed on custody. In this case, the court will approve the agreement. Unmarried partners only go to court if they are unable to agree on child custody arrangements or if the agreement does not work. Then one of them must apply to the court and ask the court to decide who will look after the child and how, whether the child will be in alternate, joint or sole custody, and who will pay maintenance and how much, if any.

Mortgage

You borrowed money together to buy a home, but the relationship didn’t work out. This is a fairly common scenario. There are a number of solutions to this situation, but for all of them it is essential to get to an agreement with the bank in the first place. Often, ex-partners will agree that only one of them will keep the property they owned together, pay off the other and pay off the rest of the mortgage themselves. However, this is where the plan can fall through if the bank does not agree. The bank, as the lender, has to allow the change on the borrowers’ side, otherwise there is no way out of the mortgage. The bank will therefore check the assets and especially the earnings of the partner who wants to have the mortgage transferred to himself. If the bank assesses that the income is not sufficient, it will not allow the other partner to bail out. You can agree with your ex-partner that he will stay in the house and pay the mortgage, but if the bank does not approve and the ex-partner stops paying, the bank will come to you. In this case, the solution may be to sell the property and use the money to pay off the mortgage and divide any remaining balance between the former partners.

Even in the case of a mortgage or other joint debts, the former partners can go to court if they cannot agree on a solution. Often, one of the ex-partners feels that he or she has put more of his or her own money into paying off the joint debt and wants some compensation from the other. The key to success is always to be able to prove your claim, i.e. to have evidence of who paid back what and how much. To avoid any post-divorce wrangling, it is always a good idea to agree before any debt is incurred who will repay and how much, what will be bought with the borrowed money, who will own it, write everything down and then also keep a record of repayments.

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How to divide the property?

If the partners are not married, then they do not have community property, as is common in marriage. This means that each is the owner of those things that they bought with their own money. If the partners buy an item together, they own it jointly. The moment they no longer want to be together, they can dissolve such co-ownership by agreement and settle financially. They can dissolve co-ownership by dividing the property (if it is physically possible and makes sense – for example, a large plot of land), or one of them can keep the property and pay the other one off, or they can sell the property and split the money. If they cannot agree on how to divide the joint property, they can take legal action in court to decide how to dissolve the joint ownership and settle the ex-partnership.

Shared animal

Did you get a dog or cat together that you both have an emotional attachment to and neither of you want to give up the pet? According to the Civil Code, an animal is not a thing, but a living creature endowed with senses. On the other hand, where it does not contradict the nature of the animal, the same sections apply to it as in the case of things. As a result, the pet will besubject to the same legal provisions as common property. The pet will normally belong to the person who acquired it. If the pet is jointly owned, the claim to it will be the same for the expartners and it will be up to them to agree what to do with it, who gets to keep it or whether they need to take turns with it. If they cannot agree, they can go to court.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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