Yes. Washington State does not have a common law marriage law; however, if the parties agree (or court finds) that they have lived together essentially like a married couple, the court applies the same principles used to divide property and debts in dissolution cases. This relationship may be called a Committed Intimate Relationship (CIR) or “an equity relationship.” It was also previously called a meretricious relationship. Not all of the same rights exist in a CIR as in a marriage; spousal maintenance and attorney’s fees contributions are not applied in CIRs. If the parties are unable to agree, one of them may file a Complaint for the Division of Property and Debts. There is no mandatory form available for this document currently.
The first question would be whether the parties were in a CIR. The basic questions for this decision are whether they have continuously cohabitated, how long they have been together, the purpose of their relationship, whether they pooled resources and services, and the parties’ intent.
The time period in which the parties lived together in a CIR before marriage may also be tagged onto the number of years of the relationship, to be considered in the dissolution of marriage (or legal separation). The court may also consider community labor of money that increased the value of separate property owned by one of the partners.