Living together in California means

Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi A Professional Law Corporation Family Law

Couples who have been living together for a long time are generally considered married in some states. This is not the case for couples in California as common law marriages are not recognized here. Yet common law marriages created in other states are recognized in California. If you have any questions about your marital status and how it can affect your family, contact a Westlake Village family law attorney.

A brief history

Common law marriages are not valid in California since 1895. However, some couples living together can still take advantage of property division laws. This is only applicable when these couples meet some strict requirements such as entering into a valid marriage where something unexpected happened making the marriage invalid. Under California’s community property laws, the party considered a putative spouse, can have a share of property obtained during the domestic partnership.


Couples who have been together for a long time can treat their assets as community property. There are cases in which one of the parties makes a promise to provide lifetime support to the other, in spite of their invalid union. This is called palimony, which means one party is promising to provide support to the other. Some situations may even allow one of the parties to claim his or her palimony rights.

Unmarried couples with assets

Some unmarried couples have joint bank accounts, joint income, debts, and property. This can be a problem if the couple decides to go separate ways. It can also have consequences when one of the parties dies since unmarried couples in California can’t receive the same benefits as married couples.

Some things to keep in mind

  • The way joint bank accounts are set up and the rights to these funds.
  • Who are the beneficiary on 401(k) accounts, pension, and retirement?
  • When parties own real estate, the benefits the co-owner has in case of death.
  • The presence of an estate plan to help protect the unmarried party.

While there are no common law marriages in California, couples that have been living together for a significant amount of time can benefit from a cohabitation agreement. It’s a great way to prevent further problems in the unfortunate case of a break up occurring.

Why hiring a Westlake Village family law attorney?

Families often go through significant changes that only experienced family law attorneys are equipped to handle. Whether your case involves asset division, child custody or alimony, these legal advocates can protect your rights and the rights of your family. Family law disputes include many sensitive topics you may not be able to handle on your own. When parents can’t agree, the best approach is allowing an attorney to serve as a mediator and help reconcile any differences over these complex matters. A Westlake Village family law attorney will answer your questions and help you determine the best course of action.

Contact us today and schedule your initial case evaluation with family law attorney Stephanie L. Mahdavi.

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