Under the laws of Washington State, the individuals in a long-term relationship have certain rights and obligations to each other regarding their property. The concept of a meretricious relationship, established by the Washington Supreme Court, allows certain aspects of the community property laws to be applied to live-in relationships. As a result, if a non- married couple breaks up, they may have to divide property obtained during the relationship equitably, just as if they had been married.
The laws of Washington State allow a couple to declare what is community property and what is separate property through a domestic partnership agreement. Whether you are entering a relationship or leaving a relationship, you need to understand the implications of these laws.
The lawyers of Pierce Law Offices can explain the meaning and consequences of the law. We can also draft domestic partnership agreements to protect your rights and interests. An attorney at our firm can evaluate your situation and provide guidance in these matters.
A domestic partnership agreement can define the rights and responsibilities of the parties regarding the ownership of personal property, the ownership of real property, living expenses, and a great deal more. It can eliminate or minimize the likelihood of litigation should the relationship break up. It can protect the inheritance rights of children born of previous marriages, just as a prenuptial agreement can. A domestic partnership agreement can strengthen a relationship by removing uncertainty over the possible division of property should the relationship dissolve. It can apply to both heterosexual and same sex relationships.
Pierce Law Offices in Seattle can draft a domestic partnership agreement or review agreements proposed by your partner. If necessary, we can undertake litigation to assert your rights, whether a written agreement exists or not.
Not every live-in relationship qualifies as a meretricious relationship. To determine if such a relationship exists and therefore if division of the property should proceed as if the parties were married, these important considerations must be examined:
- Has there been continuous cohabitation?- What has been the duration of the relationship?- What was the purpose of the relationship?- To what extent were resources pooled and for what purposes?- What was the intent of the parties?
The answers to these questions are not always clear. Making clear determinations can be difficult. Pierce Law Offices has extensive experience in matters involving the application of community property laws to live-in relationships, including the landmark case of Zion Construction v. Gilmore. Pierce Law Offices can explain these rights and the effect of community property laws on your situation. If needed, we will aggressively work to protect your rights and interests.