July 20, 2024
Common Law Marriage California All You Need To Know

Are You Living in Sin?

Picture this: you and your partner have been living together for years, sharing bills, pets, and even the remote control. But you never bothered to tie the knot. So, are you legally married in the eyes of the law? Welcome to the world of California common law marriage.

The Myth of Common Law Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, California does not recognize common law marriages. In other words, simply living together and presenting yourselves as a married couple does not automatically grant you the legal rights and protections that come with marriage.

But Wait, There’s Hope!

While common law marriage may not exist in California, there are ways to protect yourself and your partner if you choose to live together without getting married. One option is to create a domestic partnership.

Domestic Partnership: The Next Best Thing

A domestic partnership is a legal status that provides many of the same benefits and obligations as marriage. It is available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples in California, offering protections in areas such as healthcare, taxes, and property rights.

The Requirements

To register as domestic partners, both individuals must be at least 18 years old, not married or in another domestic partnership, and not closely related by blood. You must also share a common residence and be committed to a mutually supportive relationship.

Benefits Galore

By establishing a domestic partnership, you gain access to a wide range of benefits, including the ability to make medical decisions for your partner, inheritance rights, and even the option to use sick leave to care for your partner.

Protect Yourself: Cohabitation Agreements

If you and your partner choose not to enter into a domestic partnership, it’s essential to protect your rights and assets through a cohabitation agreement. This legally binding contract outlines how you will handle financial matters, property division, and even custody of any pets or children.

What’s in a Cohabitation Agreement?

A well-drafted cohabitation agreement should cover all aspects of your shared life, including financial responsibilities, debt allocation, and how property will be divided if you decide to go your separate ways. It can also address issues such as healthcare decisions and spousal support.

Consult an Expert

While it’s possible to create a cohabitation agreement on your own, it’s always best to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law. They can ensure that your agreement is legally sound and tailored to your unique circumstances.

The Power of Choice

Whether you choose to enter into a domestic partnership or create a cohabitation agreement, the key is to make an informed decision that protects both you and your partner. While common law marriage may not be recognized in California, there are still options available to safeguard your rights and ensure a loving, committed relationship.

Love, Not the Law, Matters Most

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s not a piece of paper or a legal status that defines your relationship. It’s the love, trust, and commitment you share with your partner that truly matters. So, whether you choose marriage, domestic partnership, or simply cohabitation, let love be the guiding force in your journey together.