You may have heard the term “Common Law marriage,” and wondered if it’s possible to become married without a marriage ceremony, or out of simply living together. The truth is, this is a fairly outdated concept and few states still support it. Nevada, while it doesn’t recognize Common Law marriage, does allow couples to deliberately create a similar situation in terms of shared communal property.

This concept can be tricky, however, and the Willick Law Group is here to help clarify the concept and guide you through the process if you need it.

Communal Property and Nevada Cohabitation

In Nevada, the concept of application by analogy has been recognized since 1984, allowing community property laws to apply to cohabiting couples whether or not they are officially married. In order for this circumstance to apply, both partners must explicitly or implicitly agree to hold property together as though they were married, whether it’s by joint venture, partnership or contract.

Originally, the rationale behind this was that the public encouragement of legal marriage wasn’t “well-served by allowing one participant in a meretricious relationship to abscond with the bulk of the couple’s acquisitions.” However, the concept has evolved over the intervening decades, with modern case law supporting the idea that there’s no reasonable assertion to hold out as husband and wife or as partners, even disregarding the idea of formal ownership. Such cases place the value of ownership on how much each party contributes to the property’s price.

Breaking It Down

This all seems complex, but when taken together, the two lines of cases basically indicate that any couple involved in Nevada cohabitation, who claim to be husband and wife, can be held to own all property jointly under communal property laws in Nevada.

However, there must be solid evidence of the intention to pool the couple’s resources so as to treat property in this way. Otherwise, only the actual monetary contributions of each partner is considered in terms of ownership.

Joint ownership without marriage can be a tricky concept; a relatively recent case before the Nevada Supreme Court involved a couple who thought they were lawfully married, but it turned out that the wife had never been legally divorced from her first husband. The courts held that any property that was accrued during the second, “putative marriage,” would be divided as though the couple had been legally married. However, the courts also held that due to the nature of the case, traditional alimony could not be ordered.

Willick Law Group

Each of these cases is entirely unique and individual, however, and the facts of your case will drive the end result. Willick Law Group are Nevada family law attorneys who have litigated many cases that involved Nevada cohabitation, including cases that eventually ended up in marriage, and those that did not. We are active in this area and are on top of all the evolving laws and cases. We will strive to make sure all of our clients receive a fair settlement under the law. For more detail on how Nevada treats palimony and cohabitation, see the link below, or get in touch with us to discuss your case today.


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