By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
My boyfriend and I have separated after 13 years of dating. Twelve years ago, I purchased a home. We have never shared finances and none of his money was used in purchasing the home. He has never helped with the bills or the mortgage payments, and I never asked. He is now claiming that he’s entitled to half the value of the house when I purchased it 12 years ago.
Am I correct that he is entitled to nothing?
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Living with you rent-free does not a legal beneficiary make.
Some states acknowledge common-law marriage, but that is difficult for your ex-boyfriend to prove and enforce. For instance, you would have had to present yourself as married to friends, family and/or clubs or employers, etc. Chief among those prerequisites is consent: Both parties must typically consent to being engaged in a common-law marriage.
I received a very similar question last year from the other side of the equation, a man who wondered whether he was entitled to millions of dollars of his boyfriend’s earnings while they were together. You can read my response here. As I explained, common-law marriage derives from an old law, and exists in a handful of U.S. states as an elective option.
“The phrase ‘common law’ originates with England and refers to those non-ceremonial marriages that were valid under English law. In the 1877 case Meister v. Moore, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a non-ceremonial marriage was a valid enforceable marriage, unless a state’s statute forbade it,” according to The Harris Law Firm in Colorado.
“Colorado’s statutes have not invalidated common law marriages and, consequently, they continue to this day,” it added. Washington, D.C., Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah recognize some form of common-law marriage and, in very limited circumstances surrounding the death of a partner, New Hampshire.
He wants a payoff after 13 years? He’s clear out of luck.
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