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Does family law apply to people who live together but not married?

Renton, WA |

I have been living with my partner for 4 years now. We do not have much that we own. But do any of the family laws apply to us even if we are not married?


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Attorney answers 4


Yes. If you are in an intimate physical relationship and reside together, for the purposes of property distribution and debt allocation the Court will apply the law that is applied to married couples upon you separation.

The information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.



In my personal have less legal rights as an unmarried in the event of a breakup when you have been living together in a "marriage like" relationship that had you been legally married. Look up the terms "meritricious relationship" or "commited intimate relationship" Have a cohabitation agreement before living with ANYONE!


Call around and set up a consultation with a family law attorney in your area.


If "[you] do not have much that [you] own", what would you be disputing about? Unless you have one or more minor children together, there likely is nothing that the court can do for you if you two are not legally married with each other.

WA does not allow the formation of a common law marriage between two persons regardless of how long they live together. If the two persons live in another state that allows common law marriages, WA would recognize a validly formed marriage.

While there is no formation of a common law marriage in WA, if two persons live together like a married couple, they may have property rights in properties that would have been community properties had they been married with each other. There is no right to spousal maintenance through this type of relationship.

If two persons have a minor child together, their marital relationship with each other has no bearing on the outcome of child support or parenting plan for the child. (The names of the petitions are different depending on the marital relationship.)

You should review your specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.


In California, If you are same sex partners and you registered with the Secretary ofand cost State, the family law court has jurisdiction over your case. Otherwise, you will need to file in civil court to divide property and, based on what you say about what you own, it might not be worth the time, effort and costs.

Remember this is California law. Check with an attorney in your own state