You are about to execute a Cohabitation Agreement with your significant other. The Cohabitation Agreement alters property rights that you may otherwise have had with respect to the earnings and property of your significant other.
Some of the more important property rights of couples who cohabitate under the laws of the State of Washington, some or all of which may have been altered by the Cohabitation Agreement, are as follows:
1. Separate Property. Property owned by either person prior to cohabitating or acquired by either person while cohabitating by gift, devise, or inheritance, together with the rents, issues and profits thereof, is analogous to separate property under RCW 26.16.010 - .030, and shall not be subject to the contracts and debts of the other person, nor shall it be subject to division by a court upon termination of the cohabitation. See Connell v. Francisco, 127 Wn.2d 339, 351, 898 P.2d 831 (1995). Each person may manage, lease, sell, convey, encumber or devise by Will or otherwise his separate property without the other person joining in such management, alienation or encumbrance.
2. Committed Intimate Relationships and “Pseudo” Community Property. Once a cohabitating couple is found to be involved in a committed intimate relationship, both parties acquire an interest in property that would be considered community property had the couple been married while cohabitating.
A. Committed Intimate Relationships. A committed intimate relationship is a stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabitate, knowing that they are not lawfully married. See Connell v. Francisco, 127 Wn.2d 339, 346, 898 P.2d 831 (1995). The factors relevant for establishing a committed intimate relationship between two parties include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) continuous cohabitation; (ii) duration of the relationship; (iii) purpose of the relationship; (iv) pooling of resources and services for joint projects; and (v) the intent of the parties. See Connell, 127 Wn.2d at 346.
B. “Pseudo” Community Property. In general, all property acquired during a committed intimate relationship (except separate property, as defined in section 1 above) is presumed to be owned by both parties (“Pseudo” Community Property). Upon termination of a committed intimate relationship, the court may divide the “Pseudo” Community Property in a just and equitable manner among the parties. See Connell, 127 Wn.2d at 349. As noted above, the separate property of the parties is not before the court upon termination of the committed intimate relationship, and therefore is not subject to division.