Legal Question in Family Law in Washington

I live in Washington State with a woman for around five years. I own the house and she is living at my house without a lease. I pay all bills except food which she usually buys. We don't share any finances or accounts. She is still married but is living at my house.

I want to end the relationship and have her move away. She has threatened to claim committed intimate relationship and sue me for support. She and her husband have a home and she has other inherited funds.

what are the chances that she would be successful?g

Asked on 6/27/13, 9:55 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

I do not think she would succeed if she is still legally married to someone else. However, from a practical point of view, for you to defend against such a lawsuit, it will cost you money. I suggest you see what it is she wants. If you can agree on some terms to end your relationship, tell her you'd like to have each of you sign an agreement (assuming you two can come to an agreement) memorializing the terms upon which you agree to split up. Get an attorney to draft that for you, and she will need an attorney to review it for her, in order to make it as enforceable as possible. If you have to pay for her attorney, do it.

That way you are protected if she ever changes her mind and decides to go to court down the road. Again, I think, on the facts as you've stated them, that you would prevail if she pursues a committed intimate relationship case, but trial is expensive, so it is worth pondering what it will cost to get her out of your life without the time and emotional drain of a trial.

If nothing can be worked out to your satisfaction, then you really have no choice. By the way, in committed intimate relationship cases, there is no such thing as maintenance or support. This type of lawsuit is merely a legal vehicle by which unmarried people living in a marital-like relationship can divided assets and debts in a way that is analogous to married people.

So, even if there is a committed intimate relationship, the next step is to see where you have commingled funds and where you have kept them separate. Your income and retirement accounts and any assets acquired during your five years together are what's at stake, as well as the debts accumulated during that same time.

Overall though, my answer to your question is that I think her chances of success are small, based on the information you have provided. However, to be sure, my advice is to hire an attorney to consult with before you discuss this further with your girlfriend. Sure, it will cost you something, but at least you can be armed with information going into any negotiation with your girlfriend. An attorney going through your case with you will also ask questions of you about your finances to get a better understanding of what is up for grabs if she did bring such a case. Maybe the attorney will conclude that you should not even bother to negotiate with her, or just the opposite: negotiate because she in fact has the ability to make you financially miserable. Each case comes down to the details of that particular case and the only way to get down to brass tacks and figure out what you are really looking at is often to sit down with counsel.

Best of luck to you.

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Answered on 6/27/13, 1:48 pm

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