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California Palimony Laws

Palimony refers to support payments that can be made to unmarried partners following a breakup. Not all states allow for such payments, but they have been permitted in California ever since a 1976 decision in the state Supreme Court. In these instances, requests for support based on premarital cohabitation are not made through the family law courts because it's not part of a divorce proceeding. Instead, these claims are filed as general civil actions, usually in conjunction with breach of contract or even implied partnership claims, among others.

It's also important to note that California law doesn't recognize common law marriages within the state, as this would be one way for an unmarried partner to file for a dissolution in family court and receive the related benefits of marriage, including possible community property interests in the other partner's assets. However, California courts could recognize a common law marriage if it was validly created in another state under its laws.

California Palimony Laws At A Glance

Although California doesn't have a formal statute recognizing palimony support in its Family Code, the chart below contains other statutes related to the formation of marriages and support payments. If a cohabitation previously constituted a common law marriage in another state, the statutes relating to spousal support could apply.

  • California Family Code Section 300 (defining marriage)
  • California Family Code Section 308 (recognizing out-of-state marriages, including common law marriages in other states)
  • California Family Code Section 4330 (authorizing spousal support)
Marriage Requirements

Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between two persons, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization.

Two unmarried persons 18 years of age or older, who are not otherwise disqualified, are capable of consenting to and consummating marriage.

A marriage contracted outside California that would be valid by laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted is valid in California.

Spousal Support

In a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, the court may order a party to pay for the support of the other party an amount, for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources For California Palimony Laws

Learn More About California Palimony Laws from an Attorney

While California recognizes palimony rights of unmarried couples, it doesn't formally recognize common law marriage within the state. This means that there may be a different set of rights, responsibilities and benefits that apply to unmarried couples. You can learn more about California laws that apply to unmarried couples by contacting an experienced family law attorney near you.

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