Committed Intimate Relationships (CIR), also known as “meretricious relationships,” have a unique status under Washington State law. These relationships, akin to a marriage but without a legal certificate, often raise questions about financial support when they end.
Washington law treats property and debt division in CIR much like in a marital dissolution. However, financial support, or what one might consider akin to alimony, presents a distinct situation.
Understanding committed intimate relationships
Washington State recognizes CIR when two individuals live together in a marriage-like relationship without a legal marriage. Courts look at factors such as the duration of the relationship, continuous cohabitation, pooling of resources and services for joint projects and intent for the relationship to be long-term.
Washington courts do not award maintenance or what is commonly known as alimony following the end of a CIR. However, the parties involved can have an enforceable agreement if they have previously decided on terms of financial support upon separation.
Even though the concept of alimony does not extend to CIR, the division of property and debts does. Washington courts can make a just and equitable division of property and debts acquired during the relationship, as they would in a marriage dissolution.
Impact on child support
If a couple in a CIR has children, child support orders will proceed the same way they would for a married couple. The state’s child support schedule will determine the amount of support required, based on the income of both parents.
Navigating the end of a committed intimate relationship can be challenging, particularly when it comes to understanding potential financial implications. It is crucial to note the ways in which this situation is similar to a marital dissolution and how it is different.