Unmarried couples may struggle if they decide to separate for a few reasons. To start with, they’re not protected by the same laws as married couples. This can mean that assets won’t be considered shared property and that it’s more likely that the pair will have to determine how to separate their property between themselves. In the case that there are shared assets, like credit cards in both people’s names or shared bank accounts, are normally separated equally or equitably based on who made deposits, ran charges and other factors.

Ohio’s laws do address nonmarital household property division. Ohio doesn’t give you a right to go to trial to seek the equal or equitable distribution of your property, though. Ohio does not recognize a common-law marriage, either, which means that you’ll be unable to fall back on the laws that could have protected you in a long-term, but unmarried, relationship. However, if you lived together in another state and met that state’s requirements for a common-law marriage, then the Ohio courts may recognize your common-law marriage so long as you’ve become a resident of the state and meet the current residency requirements.

Instead of worrying about showing marriage or common-law marriage, it’s better to hold your real property as tenants in common. If you don’t want to do this, you can seek help through the court by filing for a partition action, which will result in appraisals and a determination on who should obtain which property upon your separation. If the other party won’t release your personal assets, then you can bring a lawsuit to request the return of the property in court, just not in a divorce court.