Did We Have A Common Law Marriage?
Washington law concerning common law marriages and meretricious relationships is very complex. While Washington recognizes common law marriages from other states, parties may not form a common law marriage in Washington. However, parties may form a meretricious relationship in Washington.
Couples who wish to separate who are involved in a relationship recognized by Washington law as a common law marriage or meretricious relationship may be subject to Washington’s property division laws in a similar fashion to married couples. Property acquired during the relationship may be subject to equitable division.
I am Mark D. Hodgson, a Spokane common law marriage attorney who will explain how these laws affect you and your family.
Defining Meretricious Relationships
In the Washington Supreme Court case of In re Pennington, the court provided criteria for determining when a meretricious relationship exists. Factors to be considered include continuous cohabitation, duration of the relationship, purpose of the relationship, pooling of resources and services for joint projects, and the intent of the parties.
Just as property acquired during a marriage is deemed community property, Washington law calls for a rebuttable presumption that property acquired during a meretricious relationship belongs to both parties, and thus is subject to equitable distribution.
Protect Your Rights
If you and a partner have been living together and acting in a way similar to that of a married couple, you may have rights and legal responsibilities under Washington law that may require an equitable division of property acquired during your relationship. Consult an experienced family law attorney to learn more.