California does not recognize common law marriages—people live together and hold themselves out as being married. However, California does recognize common law marriages that are validly contracted in another state. Therefore, if not spouses or registered domestic partners, the parties to the relationship cannot have community property laws applied to them and therefore will be regarded as tenants in common.

The property of a putative spouse is classified as quasi-marital property. Quasi-marital property is property acquired during a void or voidable marriage, which would have been community property or quasi-community property if the marriage had not been void or voidable. The property of a putative spouse is thus characterized as community property upon divorce.

Accordingly, the mandate of the putative spouse statute to divide property as if it were community property must be applied, without regard to guilt or innocence, when the court makes the predicate findings that the marriage is void or voidable, and at least one party to the union maintained a good faith belief in the validity of the marriage. (Cite—West’s Ann.Cal.Fam.Code § 2251)

If you are a putative spouse and want to ensure that upon legal separation community property laws are applied to all the property acquired by you and your spouse during the course of your void or voidable marriage, our divorce lawyers are here to help you assure that you are protected from your spouse’s deceitful practices.