Rights When Ending Intimate Committed Relationships | Seattle Divorce Lawyers
In place of common law marriage, Washington recognizes committed intimate relationships (also known as meretricious relationships). of a committed intimate relationship in Washington State. This means if you are driving a vehicle that belongs to your ex, your ex has the legal right to reclaim it. A meretricious relationship is a term created by the Washington State . my mom their and bought everything, house, cars, the whole shebang, in his name. The law of committed intimate relationships can be applied to divide assets between The driver and the passenger in the other car both survived. . In addition, RCW provides that "[a]ny party in interest in the estate .. 36 The majority holds Washington's meretricious relationship case law.
The court applies the same guidelines as it would in a regular divorce.
This means you can ask for the home, receive a portion of any retirement plans and negotiate a settlement that provides you with the opportunity to move forward in your life with some financial security. You also may be able to ask for support similar to spousal support if you struggle with a health condition or you lack education and training to find suitable employment.
Unlike a traditional divorce, however, ending a committed intimate relationship does not grant either party the right to request alimony spousal maintenance.
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Legal rights with a non-qualifying relationship Your legal rights become more limited if the court rules that your relationship does not meet the requirements for a marriage-like situation. In this case, it becomes a matter of whether your name is on the property you are asking to retain.
This means if you are driving a vehicle that belongs to your ex, your ex has the legal right to reclaim it. This can make things a bit tricky when it involves debt. The best option is to remove your name from the credit cards or any accounts once it is decided that you and your partner are going your separate ways.
Debt that has only your name on it is considered yours and legally you are responsible for it.
What is a meretricious relationship? «
If you are in a long-term relationship that is ending and are worried about your rights, you may want to discuss your situation with a family law attorney with experience in these matters before a split actually occurs.
The court then held that "where unmarried, committed intimate partners are separated by death, as when they separate during life, any property acquired during the relationship that would have been community property [had the parties been married] is jointly owned and subject to a just and equitable division" between their estates. Once their jointly acquired property is equitably divided, then the relevant wills or statutes operate on each estate.
Finally, because the trial court did not rule on the issue, the Court of Appeals declined to decide whether assets in the estate of one partner are subject to joint tort liability where the partners were engaged in a committed intimate relationship, deferring resolution of this issue to the suit against Thuy's estate.
In his answer, Olver again argued that the trial court erred when it allowed Vu to intervene.
On the day that findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a judgment were entered in this case, Vu sought to contest the equitable division of Cung and Thuy's property on behalf of his surviving daughter, Dianna. The trial judge granted his motion to intervene. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. In this court, Olver asserts that Vu's motion to intervene was untimely.
CR 24 a provides: Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action: See also Westerman v. Postjudgment intervention requires a strong showing that intervention is necessary considering all of the circumstances including prior notice, prejudice to the other parties, and reasons for the delay.
Boy Scouts of Am. First, because he had earlier intervened in Cung's estate, he arguably had already established an interest in the case. Report of Proceedings RP at And while the trial court inquired as to why Vu did not move to take part in the mediation on the equitable division of the couple's property, counsel explained that until the mediation was completed, his interests and those of Cung's estate had been aligned in this matter.
RP at 5, 9. Vu's arguments were legal ones and counsel raised those issues once it became clear that a decision adverse to his client had been made. In addition, RCW As the trial court and Court of Appeals noted, we liberally construe our rules in favor of intervention. Columbia Gorge Audubon Soc. Klickitat County, 98 Wash. We cannot say that no reasonable person would have adopted the view of the trial court. Olver has not established that the trial court abused its discretion, and we therefore affirm the Court of Appeals.
The equitable law governing the property of committed intimate partners has evolved over the past 90 years. No Washington case has addressed the division of property between the estates of two deceased committed intimate partners. However over the years, several cases have considered property distribution where one partner has died, the deceased partner was titleholder to property, and the living partner asserted an equitable interest in that property.
Under the law at the time, the second marriage was void. But the Brenchleys lived together as husband and wife for 26 years, both believing they were legally married. Brenchley died, his second wife argued that even though the marriage was void, she was entitled to a one-half interest in all of the property acquired as a result of the couple's joint efforts.
This court agreed, reasoning that if the deceased were alive, he would not be allowed to take advantage of his own mistake by taking all of the property acquired through joint efforts. While the Brenchley court dealt with a good faith belief that the parties were indeed married, the court reasoned that Mr. Brenchley's heirs had "no better rights than their father would have were he now alive.
The Creasman court concluded that because the real property and account at issue were titled in the name of the deceased female partner, "they must both be regarded as belonging to her estate. Notably, the Creasman court also treated the division of property between the intimate partners as an initial question of what property would become part of the decedent's estate.
Inin In re Marriage of Lindsey, Wash. In its place, the Lindsey court listed several factors to consider when determining whether a committed intimate relationship existed. If such a relationship existed, then the court could apply community property law by analogy: While Lindsey involved dissolution, rather than the death of a partner, it overruled Creasman without limitation.
In that case, the probate court had deemed the partners' home to be the separate property of the deceased Mr. In the federal courts, the surviving partner was seeking "widow" status for the purpose of acquiring Mr.
Warner's social security benefits, a status she could gain if she could show that she had the same status as a spouse under Washington law of intestacy. In doing so, the Peffley-Warner court reasoned: Lindsey involved equitable division of property following breakup of a relationship where the parties had cohabited for several years before their 5 years of marriage. Lindsey states that courts must examine the relationship and the property accumulations and make a just and equitable distribution.
By overruling Creasman involving intestate property distribution Lindsey did not expand the rights of a surviving partner in an unmarried cohabiting relationship to the personal property of a deceased partner.
Lindsey merely overruled Creasman to the extent that Creasman had established a presumption that property acquired by a couple in an unmarried relationship is not community property and belongs to the person with legal title. The Peffley-Warner court acknowledged that the probate court had recognized a committed intimate relationship and had awarded Ms.
Peffley-Warner a lien on Mr. But the court held that Ms. Peffley-Warner could not take an intestate share of Mr.
Warner's estate because she was neither a surviving spouse nor an heir. Thus, we limited equitable distribution to property that would have been community property had the partners been married; separate property cannot be reached by the nontitleholding partner.
Thus, this court has not extended all of the rights of married spouses to unmarried partners. The trial court had awarded the surviving partner the property acquired during the relationship, holding this property was not part of the deceased partner's estate.
The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the law of committed intimate relationships could not be applied to couples of the same sex who could not have legally married. On review, we found sufficiently genuine issues of material fact to require trial and remanded to the trial court for determination of whether any of the surviving partner's bases for equitable remedies, including the law of committed intimate relationships, could be proved.
In doing so, we made it clear that an inability to legally marry did not preclude an equitable claim per se, and each claim had to be evaluated on its facts. More importantly for purposes of this case, the Vasquez majority did not recognize the death of one party as a barrier to any equitable claim asserted in that case, including one based on the law of committed intimate relationships, a fact the dissent ignores.
Olver v. Fowler
But equity is limited; only jointly acquired property, but not separate property, can be equitably distributed. Finally, as the law of committed intimate relationships has developed, we have not objected to its application even where the relationship at issue terminated with the death of one partner, rather than the dissolution of the relationship.
Similarly, the dissent relies on concurring opinions in Vasquez to argue that the law of committed intimate partnerships should not apply where the relationship has ended because of the death of either partner. They argue that the intestacy statutes alone should govern distribution of the property titled in each partner's name.
First, the decedent's property must be inventoried; a personal representative must determine what property belongs in the decedent's estate. Significantly, it was the inventory of Cung's estate that Olver challenged in this action on behalf of Thuy's estate. Only after the contents of the estate are established can the personal representative distribute the contents of the estate according to a valid will or the rules of intestacy.
As the Court of Appeals aptly explained, "we do not look to the intestacy statutes to determine what the decedent owned. Once a decedent's share is determined, "that partner's share is the estate upon which the inheritance rules will operate. Once the trial court found that Cung and Thuy were in a committed intimate relationship, a fact not contested here, a mediator provided for the equitable division of the property between the entities that had stepped into Cung and Thuy's shoes, their estates.
The mediator, when announcing his decision, emphasized that in Cung and Thuy's culture it was customary to title property in the male partner's name. Applying the law of committed intimate relationships, the mediator concluded that all of Cung and Thuy's property had been acquired during their relationship, and despite title, Thuy was entitled to an undivided one-half interest in the jointly acquired property.
CP at Because both partners were deceased, the property would be divided evenly between their estates. Only after the division of the couple's property could their estates be distributed according to applicable law.
The record reflects that both Cung and Thuy had wills and each left his or her entire estate to the other, with no secondary beneficiaries. CP at 2, 15, Under the uniform simultaneous death act, chapter Therefore both wills failed, and intestacy statutes control. But this ignores the property rights of the deceased partner. In a marriage, each spouse has a present, undivided interest in the couple's community property. By analogy to community property law, Thuy had an undivided interest in the couple's jointly acquired property, even though it was titled in Cung's name.
The death of one or both partners does not extinguish that right; Thuy's estate merely steps into her shoes. As the Brenchley court explained 90 years ago, Cung's heirs should have no better rights than Cung would have, were he still alive. In re Brenchley's Estate, 96 Wash. However, regardless of how her estate will eventually be distributed, Thuy's interest in property she jointly accumulated with Cung should be honored.
As the Court of Appeals recognized, "[t]he right to devise one's property and thereby transfer accumulated wealth is one of our society's most firmly guarded individual rights. Thuy, and in her place her estate, should not be divested of that right simply because her heir and Cung's heir are the same.
Committed Intimate Relationships: Understanding what “living together” means in Washington State
Ultimately, this case involves the equitable division of property between Cung and Thuy's estates; the interests of third parties are not germane until it is time to determine how the estates should be distributed. See In re Brenchley's Estate, 96 Wash. Moreover, to the extent that her estate might shield assets for her son, Thuy is entitled to provide that benefit for her son if such a shield is indeed available.
We conclude that the law of committed intimate relationships applies where both partners are deceased, allowing equitable division between the deceased partners' estates. We affirm the Court of Appeals and the probate court's division of the property. Vu also argues that placing one half of the couple's jointly acquired property into Thuy's estate will effectively insulate that half of the community property from Cung's tort creditors, including Dianna.
No Washington court has addressed whether principles of joint tort liability apply to committed intimate partners. The Court of Appeals declined to reach this question because the trial court did not rule on it and because the issue would be more appropriately addressed in Vu's pending suit against Thuy's estate. Order Barring Creditor's Claim at 1.