Once upon a time, in states other that California, people could live together for a certain number of years as husband and wife and be considered married under a theory called “Common Law Marriage.” Under this theory, the courts would treat the two people as officially married and be allowed to officially divorce, even though they may have never said “I Do” or signed a marriage certificate. This was an important finding because, in a divorce, alimony is always an issue to be resolved and community property is divided 50/50.
However, California does not allow for common law marriages. A couple who lives together for 10 years before breaking up is not automatically entitled to the divorce process. (Some exceptions may apply) Instead, the couples fall under the civil court system which considers all property and support issues a matter of contract law, which is based on promises to each other that may or may not be provable in court. This is a more difficult process because who can remember the wordy promises made under a pale blue moon after a romantic dinner and bottle of chardonnay? Certainly not the person who promised to give his lover half of the house.
Therefore, a word of advice to the people who eschew the system and do not want a marriage contract, get everything else in writing
Sagaria Law, P.C. represents clients who wish to file for divorce, child custody, spousal support, legal separation, and other family law-related issues. We represent clients from Santa Clara County, Monterey County, Alameda County, and the surrounding areas. Contact Sagaria Law, P.C. today to schedule your free, no obligation consultation to speak with one of our lawyers.