What are the legal rights for a non-registered domestic partnership?

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What are the legal rights for a non-registered domestic partnership?

In brief: My partner and I were never registered as domestic partners, but we lived as a “married” couple for 6 yrs. We “divorced” 3 yrs ago and my ex has not followed through with financial support as written in a contract. How do I go about collecting the money she said she would be paying me (in excess of $20,000.) She is now saying that she is not going to pay me any of the money. Does this constitute breach of contract/agreement?

Asked on March 29, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Bring the contract to a family law attorney to evaluate it.  The short answer: contracts are generally enforceable--and you may bring a lawsuit to enforce them or for damages when there is a breach--but first, it must be a valid contract. Among other things, there must be consideration, or something received in exchange for undertaking the contract's obligation; the classic example is in buying a house, the consideration is the money paid for the home, which is what makes it enforceable. Howver, somethings, such as affection, sexual or intimate relations, etc., are not considered valid consideration, so it may be the case that this "contract" actually represents an unenforceable promise. However, to be sure, you need  a lawyer to read it for you, and given how much money is at stake ($20k, you indicate), it would be well worth the consultation.

Also, don't delay: the statute of limitations, or time to take legal action, in CA on contracts is only 4 years, so if you wait too long (you indicate 3 years have already passed since your "divorce"), you will be precluded from taking action even if the contract would otherwise be valid. Good luck.


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