In CA, unmarried couples who live together are defined under the category of cohabitation. There’s no common law marriage in the state, which means that the legal rights of co-habitating couples vary significantly from those of married couples.
Today, we want to talk about the legal specifics of how unmarried cohabitating couples operate under family law in CA. Note that this differs from a domestic partnership, where a couple formally applies and are awarded similar benefits to those enjoyed by married couples.
Unlike a domestic partnership, unmarried cohabitating couples are not officially/unofficially married and thus do not enjoy the same rights/privileges (or risks for that matter) that a married couple does.
Unmarried Couples and Finances
Under CA law, unmarried couples are fully separate individuals with separate finances. No new resources or assets are automatically considered jointly-owned, unless the parties choose to share income/assets. In the case of a split, these assets are equally divided. Likewise, there is no obligation for alimony or spousal support. Note that if children are involved, child support is still on the table as required.
Unmarried Couples and Children
When it comes to kids, obligations for child support and having to determine custody still apply. Thus, an unmarried person cannot bank on the lack of a legal union to skirt their parental duties. Unlike with married couples however, the courts will look to establish paternity via an agreement or a test before a child support order is established. This also applies to inheritances.
Unmarried Couples and Property
Property is fairly clear-cut: the person whose name is on the property is the official and sole owner. When something is jointly owned, it is split and divided equally.
When someone contributes to the ownership of a property via payments, but his/her name is not officially listed, they’ll have to seek out legal counsel as their ownership is not automatically recognized under CA law.
Reach out to a Skilled Divorce Attorney Today
As you can see, there’s lots of additional complications and caveats that unmarried cohabitating couples need to try and account for. This is just a general overview of how an unmarried status impact the legal rights of a couple.
Get specific legal advice for your needs by connecting with an experienced attorney today. Call us at the Law Offices at James P. White.
Reach us at 925-271-0999, where you can schedule a free initial consultation.