A common law marriage refers to couples who live together for a specified period of time as husband and wife but are not legally married. There are some states that allow for common law marriages but California is not one of them. In California, people who cohabit but are not married are not recognized by the court. Here are some things to consider when you cohabit without being married:
1. If you have children, you will need a Paternity Action which will establish the father and address custody, visitation and support for the children. This can be done amicably and when you are living together as a family and does not necessarily mean going to court. A court appearance can be avoided when you are in agreement regarding the children issues.
2. There is no spousal support when people cohabit without being married or if they do not have a legal domestic partnership.
3. Those who purchase a home or assets together will not have recourse in the family court for issues like division of property. This will be a civil matter under the ‘palimony’ law.
It is risky to cohabit when not married in California. There are no laws that protect you in the event of a break up. The palimony law is an option but it is a costly one and often difficult to prove. When cohabiting and acquiring property, the parties should seek legal advice so that each will understand their legal rights.
To discuss, call Legal Action Workshop @ 800-HELP-444 (800-435-7444) or visit our website www.LegalActionWorkshopLAW.com .

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