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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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If I started buying a house three years before we marrried,

Customer Question

If I started buying a house three years before we marrried, however we did live together the whole time prior to marriage. This was payed for all out of private account from a time I bought a house after my first marriage and was payed off, before remarriage ten years between marriages. All house payments and taxes were payed out of account. Bought new house Oct 98 got married May 12 2001. Is house mine or is it half and half?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

The house should be your separate property. The determination of what characterization the property has, separate or community, is determined as of the moment it is acquired. Since you were single at the time it was acquired then it would be separate property. However, Washington does have something similar to a common law marriage known as the “committed intimate relationship” doctrine. That is where property is acquired at a time when a couple are living in a situation that is like being married but aren't.

The courts employ a 3-prong analysis for dividing property after the committed intimate relationship ends. First, it must determine that the parties had a “stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabit with knowledge that a lawful marriage between them does not exist.” When the court makes this determination it considers the length of the relationship, how long the parties lived together, the purpose of the relationship, whether the parties pooled resources, and the intent of the parties.

If a court finds that a committed intimate relationship existed, it will evaluate the interest each party has in the property acquired during the relationship and make a “just and equitable” division of that property.

The burden of proof is on them and I would think it is unlikely they would be successful in getting this property characterized as separate property.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

I am about to sign off for the evening but will be back on tomorrow morning.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

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