More and more couples are choosing to live together before or instead of getting married. This doesn’t pose a problem until the relationship breaks up and it’s not clear what each party’s rights are. We have some tips to help protect both of you now so if you do part ways in the future, there won’t be a legal disaster.
Tips for Unmarried Couples in Washington State
As an unmarried couple, you face different legal issues if you choose to end your relationship. So, it is important to understand your rights.
Always seek legal advice before making expensive purchases as an unmarried couple.
Consider establishing a cohabitation agreement to protect your personal assets if the relationship comes to an end.
Unmarried couples do not have legal rights to make medical decisions for their partner in an emergency. You also do not have automatic inheritance rights. There are, however, steps legal steps you can take to ensure that you do.
Unmarried Couples Have More Rights Than They Realize
Debts: Typically, you are not responsible for your partner’s debts including credit cards, mortgages, utility bills, and auto loans unless they were jointly contracted.
Commingled Finances: Additionally, you do have legal rights to property if you used commingled finances to make the purchase.
Unmarried Couples with Children in Washington State
Regardless of your marital status, you have a legal responsibility to provide care for your children. More importantly, all matters of custody and child support are determined through the same channels for both married and unmarried couples.
The only hiccup in child custody and support cases is if your child is not biologically yours and you haven’t gone through the necessary channels to adopt him or her.
Is There Common Law Marriage in Washington State?
A common law marriage is a situation where legally a couple is considered married because of how long they have cohabited with each other. Washington State does not recognize common law marriages.
However, Washington State does recognize committed intimate relationships (CIR) if the unmarried couple meets certain requirements including:
- Pooling of resources
- The continued period of cohabitation
- Relationship purpose
Are You Ending a Washington State Committed Intimate Relationship or Unmarried Partnership?
If you cohabitate with someone as an unmarried couple and you believe the relationship may come to an end, do you know what rights you have? Do you feel like you are in a marriage-like relationship? Did you commingle your finances? Did you have a child together? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is in your best interest to consult with a Washington State CIR or unmarried couples’ family lawyer.
Whether you are getting into or getting out of an unmarried or committed intimate relationship, please contact us or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and allow us the opportunity to help you understand your legal rights.