Dividing Property At The End Of Committed Intimate Relationship In Washington State
If you are in a marriage-like relationship with another adult, referred to as a “meretricious relationship” or a “committed intimate relationship,” but not legally married, Washington State courts can still determine the division of debts and assets you acquired during the relationship.
In order to determine whether you and your former partner fall into the definition of a “committed intimate relationship” the Court will consider the following 5 factors:
- Continuous cohabitation;
- Duration of the relationship;
- Purpose of the relationship;
- Pooling of resources and services for joint projects; and
- The intent of the parties.
Similar to what happens in a dissolution proceeding (divorce) in Washington State, the Court can be called on to determine which partner should receive which assets and liabilities acquired during a relationship once it has ended.
There are few differences from a dissolution, however. While attorney fees can be awarded in a dissolution action if one party has the need and the other party has the ability to pay, attorney fees cannot be awarded in a committed intimate relationship case. Additionally, there is a 3-year statute of limitations to bring a property division action based on a meretricious relationship – you must bring a lawsuit within three years of the end of the relationship to establish that it existed for the purpose of having the court determine the division of property.