If I lived with my boyfriend for 7 years and we broke up, what are my legal choices?

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If I lived with my boyfriend for 7 years and we broke up, what are my legal choices?

Am I a common law wife and can I require him to financially assist me?

Asked on December 25, 2012 under Family Law, California

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I agree with the previous answer.  The only thing to add is that if there were written or oral promises--you may have a shot at getting supported by filing a civil law suit.  However, it's an uphill battle and very rare.  See Marvin v. Marvin for more details.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

California does not recognize common law marriage, so you cannot be a common law wife. That means you don't have any rights based on your relationship--being a girlfriend is not a legal (or legally protected) relationship. A girlfriend has no rights; one reason people marry is to give each other rights and protections they would not otherwise have.

You may be entitled to take furniture and other property which you paid for (or to your share of its value if the two of you jointly paid for it), to your share of any vehicles and real estate, and to your share of any joint bank accounts, but that's because you were owner or part owner of those things, not because of the relationship. If you are not getting your fair share of anything you owned or paid for, speak with an attorney.


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