Many Washington couples make lives together without entering into marriage. These relationships are termed “committed intimate relationships” and exist when both parties co-habit in a committed, marriage-like relationship, where both parties know that they are not lawfully married. The factors used to determine if a committed intimate relationship exists between two people are continuous cohabitation, duration of the relationship, the purpose of the relationship, whether the parties pooled resources and services for joint projects and the intent of the parties. The rules governing the end of committed intimate relationships are similar to the rules that govern dissolutions of marriage but differ in several key aspects.
When a committed intimate relationship exists the court has the authority to divide the property acquired through the efforts of the parties during the course of the relationship, however unlike in a dissolution the “separate property” cannot be divided. Unlike in a marriage, the Court has no authority to award maintenance following a committed intimate relationship. Finally, there is no statute authorizing attorney fees for the division of property following a committed intimate relationship.
If children result from a committed intimate relationship the court has the ability to determine parentage, adopt a parenting plan and order child support.