It is common for couples to live together, purchase property, acquire debt, have children, and never get married. Although there is no common law marriage in Washington State, there are state laws that recognize some long-term relationships. Depending on several factors, the court system may treat your relationship as a domestic partnership or committed relationship if you separate, entitling you to certain assets. To learn more about these and discuss your specific situation with an experienced domestic partnership lawyer, contact Cohen Family Law, LLC today. We offer free consultations; call at (360) 953-5000 or send us a message online.
A domestic partnership is, essentially, an alternative to marriage but still an official partnership that is registered with Washington State. To register as domestic partners in Washington, the following conditions must also be met:
Ending a domestic partnership follows the same procedures as ending a marriage. That means you will have to fill out a dissolution action in state Superior Court and obtain a court order to dissolve the partnership, which also involves dividing assets, maintenance, and child custody or parenting plans. If both parties cannot agree on the important matters referenced above, they will have to either mediate or litigate their differences.
Domestic partnerships were initially treated as a substitute for marriage for same-sex partners. However, the state changed its stance on marriage equality in 2014, and when the law changed, any valid domestic partnership was automatically converted to a legal marriage. Our domestic partnership lawyers can help you navigate the process.
Washington State recognizes the importance of long-term relationships between two unmarried people, calling them committed intimate relationships. There is no strict definition, but the court will consider the following factors to determine whether a committed intimate relationship existed:
If the court finds that such a relationship exists, a judge can divide the property and liabilities of the parties. However, the division may be different than how property is divided in a divorce, which is 50/50. Spousal maintenance will not be awarded.
Regardless of the nature or length of your relationship, our experienced Washington domestic partnership attorneys are here to offer guidance and support. Call (360) 953-5000 or contact Cohen Family Law, LLC online to discuss your rights in a free consultation.