Common Law Marriage – The Marriage That Doesn’t Exist In California

Posted by Adrian S. Doty, Esq. | Jul 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

While the rumor that adultery somehow affects a divorce in California is the first and most popular myth regarding dissolution, the idea that common-law marriage exists in the state is a close second. In the event you have no idea what common-law marriage is, “common-law marriage” is the theory that if one co-habitates (lives) with another party long enough in a romantic relationship, they become legally married. While on paper, there may appear to be advantages to this. The advantages confined to that paper and dreams.

common-law marriage in California

In fact, there no common-law marriage in California, something that was made clear by the decision rendered in Maglica v. Maglica (1998) 66 CA4th 442, 447. In this case, the Court found that simply living together as alleged “husband” and “wife” cannot give rise to a “marriage” or other legal-like union under California law. While this may sound like a decision that clarifies a question that no one asked. In practical terms on a day-to-day basis. This means that people who live together, but not married. And are not registered domestic partners have no interest. In the other party's personal property (bank accounts, cars. Retirement accounts) or real property (houses). No matter how long they have been together.

if you in a long-term relationship with another person:

This means that if you in a long-term relationship with another person and do not get married. Under California law you expect to receive nothing. In the event this sounds horrible, like many things, the law provides an out. In this case, the out is what is known as a “Marvin action”based on the seminal case in this area – Marvin v. Marvin(1976) 134 CR 815. The decision in Marvin held that parties who not married. But co-habitated for years in a common law marriage type of situation. Could enforce implied or express contracts. That had articulated between the parties over the years. Common Law Marriage The Court in Marvin also found that the judicial system could look to a variety of other remedies to protect the parties lawful expectations in the absence of marriage.

a long term relationship without marriage

It is also worth noting for those that have been in a long term relationship without marriage, but have children, child support arises on termination of the relationship. See Family Code Section 3900. Finally, it is also worth noting for those that are in a long term non-marriage relationship that has ended, and are considering their rights, Common Law Marriage Marvin claims must be brought in a short period of time. If you have questions about your rights as an unmarried party exiting a long term relationship, don't just trust what advice you receive from family and friends, or the internet, but contact an attorney who can guide you between what is real – and what is a dead end, and who will advocate for you to get the protection you need.

Contact our office today with any questions you may have to safeguard your financial well-being. Our experienced divorce attorneys are here to assist you. If you have any questions regarding the divorce process in San Diego please contact Christopher J. Sunnen at (619) 255-9551 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

About the Author

Adrian S. Doty, Esq.

Adrian Doty is a Senior Associate Attorney at Sunnen Law. Mr. Doty began his legal career working as a civil litigation attorney in Los Angeles before moving to the Bay Area in 2014 where he gained complex civil and family law litigation experience working for one of the largest family law firms.He has experience with a variety of complex Family Law matters, including complex and high-net-worth case matters custody and visitation disputes, contempt and post-judgment enforcement, military-family law issues, and domestic violence restraining orders. Mr. Doty understands how emotionally difficult family law matters can be, which is why he is dedicated to the efficient management of his client's cases. While he always works to achieve settlements through negotiation when possible, he aggressively litigates to protect his clients' interests when necessary. 


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