In some states, living together in a household as husband and wife for a certain numbers of years can result in a legal status called common law marriage. For a couple in this situation in these states, they are considered to be legally married under state law, and therefore enjoy all of the rights and privileges of marriage. If the couple ultimately splits up, then they would have to seek a divorce under their state’s laws
In the state of California, however, there is no such thing as common law marriage. No matter how many years that a couple lives together, and even if the woman changes her last name to match the man’s last name, they are not legally married. They are not entitled to any of the benefits to which a legally married couple would be entitled. As a result, if the couple splits up, they will not be required to get divorced under California state law.
However, an unmarried couple who has lived together for a significant period of time most likely has accumulated joint property and may have children together. In this situation, a couple who is splitting up has essentially the same difficulties as a divorcing couple. While custody and visitation issues would be governed by the California laws pertaining to paternity, property issues may be more complex, particularly if the couple owns real estate together.
A knowledgeable California family law attorney can guide you through every step of the separation process and make it easier for you in many ways. You are likely to have many questions, both now and in the future, about your separation and how it will impact many different aspects of your life. At the Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates, we have assisted countless clients through the separation process. Contact our office today and see how we can help.