Committed Intimate Relationship
Cohabitation Agreements in Washington State
Understanding "Committed Intimate Relationship" (CIR) in Washington
While Washington State is not a "common law state," there is case law that provides for the division of assets and liabilities when parties are in a "committed intimate relationship / CIR." There are specific elements that need to be met before the CIR case law applies to your situation but, the elements are met over time and unless you have an agreement otherwise, they apply and you have no control over it once they apply.
Determining CIR Status
Whether your relationship meets the requirements of a CIR is fact specific and a detailed consult and analysis is required. Contact TFL to schedule a consult to discuss. If the facts of your relationship meet the requirements of the case law for a CIR the court will apply the community property laws that apply to the dissolution of a marriage (divorce) to divide your assets and liabilities.
Implications of CIR Status on Assets and Liabilities
This means that a court can divide all assets and liabilities obtained by the parties of a CIR in a way that is "equitable." This could include the value of a home, savings assets, investment assets, retirement assets, crypocurrencies, stocks, etc.
Limits of CIR: Spousal Support and Attorney's Fees
Spousal support and attorneys fees are not typically awarded in CIR cases as those remedies are only authorized in divorce actions.
The Importance of Cohabitation Agreements
For the above reasons, it is best to have a cohabitation agreement in place that defines what part of the case law, if any, applies to your relationship. The main purpose of this agreement is for both parties to be on the same page about what expectations apply to their relationship. The main focus of the agreement is regarding finances and how they will be managed during the cohabitation. If these conversations and agreements are not made before cohabitating, the parties can have different expectation about a lot of things, especially finances, that cause arguments and a general inability to communicate / understand each other.
TFL's Approach to Cohabitation Agreements
It is the goal of TFL to assist clients in having these conversations prior to cohabitation and coming to agreements that place the parties on the same page. In our experience, this helps the couple start off their relationship in a positive and transparent trajectory. The inability to communicate and finances are the leading cause of divorce and break ups so it is crucial to manage that aspect of the relationship prior to cohabitation and the application of laws that you did not intend to ever apply.