California Common Law Marriage – Myth or Reality?
Common law marriage is a situation in which a couple live together as if they were husband and wife; buying properties, sharing bank accounts, raising kids, but never got a marriage license.
Although California abolished the common law marriage doctrine in 1895, there are some exceptions in which a California court would consider a common law marriage as valid. For example, if the couple were living in
a common law marriage jurisdiction and satisfied all the requirements for common law marriage in this jurisdiction, they are married under the law of that state. If they decide to relocate in California later, their
marriage will be recognized.
There are about ten states in the USA which recognize common law marriage.
Each state has different requirements to define common law marriage such as, how long the parties need to live with each other to qualify for common law marriage and the minimum age they should be, etc.
Another exception for recognizing California common law marriage is a contractual relationships between parties.
In the famous California case, Marvin v. Marvin, Michel sued her partner for financial for spousal support. The court awarded Michel to claim such support even though the parties were never officially married, but
lived together. She eventually lost the claim because she could not prove the contractual relationship.
Other cases were successful provided that a party could show either an explicit written agreement or an implied agreement that parties intended to provide support or share properties.
In order to show that a California Common Law marriage was valid, the written contract does not need to be drafted professionally; if the major provisions of a the basic understanding of a contractual relationship is
provided, the judge could fill the gaps if there are any, and then divide properties according to community properties principles or awarding financial support.
If you are trying to provide evidence that you have a California Common Law marriage without a written agreement, it is more challenging, but possible.
The court will look at the factors such as whether the parties were commingling their finances, whether they purchased a house in both of their names, whether each of them placed a down payment on that house.
In consideration of financial support the, court will look at why one of the spouses quit his/her job. Perhaps one of the couple sacrificed his/her career to take care of the others needs, did cleaning, cooking relying that it if the relationship would be broken, she/he would be entitled to financial support.
If you are in a California Common Law marriage relationship and thinking about ending relationship
there are many factors you will need to value and it would be a good idea to see a divorce attorney. If you have any
questions please call 714-390-3766