Cohabitation Agreements

California Common Law Marriage

Some states recognize the marriage of couples who have been together for an extended period of time and who have considered themselves as married. California is not one of those states. Unmarried couples who have been together for an extended period of time, however, do have some rights. At Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, we can help you protect those rights and provide you with straightforward advice regarding your situation. We represent clients in a wide range of family-related matters, including matters involving common law marriage issues.

Schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm by calling 415-789-5881.

Common Law Marriages from Other States

It may be possible to be married under California law if you lived as a couple in another state that recognizes common law marriage. In order for California to recognize your common law marriage, you and your partner must have met the other state?s criteria for common law marriage. These laws vary from state to state, so it is important to work with an attorney who can help you determine if you meet the criteria. In general, most states require that you hold yourselves out as married, such as filing joint tax returns and using the same last name.

States that currently have common law marriage laws include:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • South Carolina
  • Utah

What Are the Rights of Unmarried Couples in California?

Even if you were not legally married or do not meet another state?s criteria for common law marriage, you may have limited rights similar to divorcing couples. For example, if you reasonably believed that you had a valid marriage, you may have the right to financial support and the division of assets. Whether you had a reasonable belief can be difficult to prove and often involves situations where there was a technical error in the marriage process.

You may also have rights after you separate if there was a written or verbal contract promising financial support, such as a cohabitation agreement. This is often referred to as ?palimony,? and it similar to alimony for couples who have been together for an extended period of time.

Seek the Assistance of Our California Divorce Attorneys

Because every situation is unique, our lawyers can assess your situation and help you understand your legal rights and options after a separation. We also welcome calls from out-of-state individuals who are facing legal proceedings in California.

Give us a call to learn more about common law and your rights.

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Santa Barbara, CA 93101

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