Divorce laws and stories of messy breakups can lead men to wonder: is it safer not to marry?
Some men feel that marriage is an obligation that parents should have to their future children; this attitude springs from older social mores that dictated that married parents were somehow superior to unmarried ones. These men are likely to marry no matter what the perceived risk, if only to give their children a “name.”
On the other hand, there are many men who wonder if they might not avoid all the problems of marriage by simply living with a partner and having or adopting children if they so choose. This, in their opinion, might be the way to avoid contentious divorce litigation down the road if the relationship does not work out, as statistics predict could happen.
Is it safer not to marry?
Just the Facts, Ma’am
In order to answer that question, it is important to first understand the nature of California law when it comes to overseeing relationships. First, it is important to note: California does not recognize “common law” marriage by statute. The only time a California court will acknowledge a common law marriage is if the couple has moved from a state in which they were legally joined by a common law union.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about common law marriages in California. Some people say if you live together a certain amount of time or hold yourself out to be married in public that you are legally married, even if you have not applied for a license or gone through some type of ceremony. This is not true. There are no legal grounds in California for claiming a “common law” marriage, even if you live together for fifty years or tell everyone you were married. Therefore, there is a difference between being married and not being married, at least in the eyes of the law of California. For example, non-married couples cannot sue for loss of consortium in California lawsuits, and this includes “common law” couples.
Just Because You’re Not Married Does Not Mean You Won’t Be Held Accountable
However, just because you never legally tied the knot does not mean that California courts will not recognize your partner’s and children’s rights. In fact, when it comes to access to your children and protection for your assets, your rights may be better protected if you are married than if you are not.
A family law attorney may be able to give you the facts and help you decide the best course of action to take in a divorce or separation matter.