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Family Law

Q. I lived with my boyfriend/girlfriend a number of years, does that mean we have a common law marriage?

Q.  My husband owes child/ spousal support from a previous marriage/ relationship. Can his ex-wife/ girlfriend garnish my wages/levy my bank account?

Q. I pay child support to my ex-wfe. My kid just turned 18, can I stop?

 

 


 

Q. I lived with my boyfriend/girlfriend a number of years, does that mean we have a common law marriage?

A. Contrary to popular belief, California does not recognize common law marriage.  A common law marriage is informal marriage that is recognized in some jurisdictions where the parties hold themselves out as being married, but have not complied with the requirements of a formal marriage. California abolished common law marriage in 1895, with the enactment of what is now Family Code section 300.

California only recognizes common law marriages that were validly entered into in a state that recognizes common law marriage.

If you have lived together, the court will view you as unmarried cohabitants. California does recognize rights accruing from a relationship based on the ability to state and prove a "Marvin" claim, based on the doctrine enunciated in the 1976 landmark case of Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660. A Marvin action is a lawsuit between unmarried parties who had a contractual agreement on how to handle earnings, wealth accumulation and property that was acquired during the relationship.


Q.  My husband owes child/ spousal support from a previous marriage/ relationship. Can his ex-wife/ girlfriend garnish my wages/ levy my bank account?

A.  A spouse's child support or spousal support obligations from a prior marriage or relationship are that spouse's debts and are treated as debts incurred by that spouse prior to the current marriage. (Fam. Code, § 915, subd. (a).)  All of the community property and your husband's separate property are liable for a debt that he incurred before marriage.

There is an exception, however, for the community property earnings of the new spouse who is not the debtor.  The earnings of the new spouse are not liable for a debt incurred by that person's spouse before marriage.  The remain exempt from liability as long as they are held in a deposit account in which the debtor spouse has no right of withdrawal and do not get commingled with other community property. (Fam. Code, § 911, subd. (a).)

 


Q. I pay child support to my ex-wfe.  My kid just turned 18, can I stop?

A. The obligation to pay court-ordered child support ends when the supported child turns eighteen (18) years old if he or she graduates from high school.  If the 18 year old is still a full time high school student and lives with a parent, child support will not end until the child graduates or turns nineteen (19), whichever occurs first. (Fam. Code, § 3901.)

Parents are free to agree to support a child longer than these statutorily provided guidelines. (Fam. Code, § 3901, subd. (b).)  Parents may also be ordered to continue to support a disabled adult children that cannot support themselves. (Fam. Code, § 3910.)

Child support also ends when the supported child becomes emancipated or dies.

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