Unmarried couples can fall in two different categories. There is the traditional unmarried couple consisting of a man and a woman and then there is the non-traditional unmarried couple, which can encompass same-sex couples. Although there are states that now recognize same-sex marriage and afford these couples all of the privileges that go with a traditional marriage, there are still states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. As such, these non-traditional married couples have to fight for the same rights and property rights are one of them.
Michigan is one of the states that do not recognize property rights for same-sex couples. So when a same-sex couple is married in another state or region that recognizes their marriage, then full faith and credit is given to that marriage. However, this apparently does not extend to property rights. When a same-sex couple owns a house together and one spouse dies, the property rights are not automatically passed to the living spouse. This is what same-sex couples in Michigan are trying to change.
Unmarried couples, be they traditional or non-traditional, have a number of issues that are more difficult to resolve because of the nature of their relationship. So with respect to issues dealing with property division and child support, unmarried couples may not be given as many legal protections. Moreover, a lot of laws pertaining to marriage only address marriages that involve a man and a woman. Some may call these laws antiquated based on the fact that in today’s society marriage is more broadly defined.
Many states are redefining the definition of marriage to include this broader spectrum of individuals and the laws are beginning to represent that fact. But until those changes take place, same-sex couples, as well as other unmarried couples, have a number of legal barriers to face in trying to get the same legal recognition as traditional married couples.
Source: Lez Get Real, “Equality Michigan Calls For Same-Sex Property Rights,” Bridgette P. LaVictoire, May 28, 2013