Washington Unmarried Couples Lawyer
If you are in a committed relationship but have not legally married your partner, you should be aware of the laws that apply to you. An experienced Washington unmarried couples lawyer can help you understand your rights and options as an unmarried couple.
If you and your partner decided to part ways or if you wish to know the law as it applies to unmarried couples, it may be essential for you to seek the services of a knowledgeable attorney. The laws in Washington could be complicated for unmarried couples. Many of the same legal issues encountered by divorcing married couples are also encountered by unmarried couples. However, there are special laws that apply to unmarried couples and it is important to understand them.
Common Law Marriages Not Recognized in Washington
Unlike some states, Washington law does not make provisions for common law marriage. A common law marriage is where a couple lives together for a period and presents themselves as married to the community but never go through formalities of obtaining a marriage license.
Washington has not developed formal statutes that address property division or support when an unmarried couple decides to terminate their partnership. In the absence of legislation, Washington courts rely on past cases to determine how to handle the distribution of property acquired during the relationship as well as support. An unmarried couples lawyer in Washington can explain to a couple how the law applies to their situation.
Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriages
In contrast to common law marriages, domestic partnerships are recognized by Washington. In 2007, legislation was passed to provide protections and rights to same-sex couples and older couples. Older couples who chose to cohabitate without marriage to retain benefits from a prior marriage could opt to enter a domestic partnership. A domestic partnership offers similar protections as marriage and requires a separating couple to follow the same laws as would apply to a legally married couple.
In 2012 Washington passed legislation to permit legal marriage between same-sex couples. After the law passed, same-sex couples were no longer allowed to utilize domestic partnerships. However domestic partnership is still available if at least one partner is over the age of 62.
A same-sex couple who entered into a domestic partnership prior to the legislation can now opt to be legally married. However, after June 30, 2014, their domestic partnership automatically converted into a binding marriage.
Parentage Statutes for Unmarried Couples
The Washington Parentage Statute applies to heterosexual couples with children and same-sex couples who have a biological child using surrogacy or other methods. It also provides guidelines to create parenting plans for unmarried couples and procedures to establish paternity.
When a person fulfilled the role of a parent but is not the biological or adoptive parent, Washington courts rely on recent cases for guidance to establish legal parent-child relationships and parenting plans. This is especially important in a same-sex relationship when it is impossible to establish a biological or adoptive link between the parent and the person acting as a parent.
Benefits of a Washington Unmarried Couples Attorney
Ending a relationship is never easy. It does not matter whether you are married or unmarried. A Washington unmarried couples lawyer can help if you are contemplating ending your relationship and want to know your rights.
A compassionate attorney understands the complexities of the law as it applies to your unique situation and can explain your options in a way you can understand. He or she can help you make informed decisions that will help you secure the best future.