Non-Marital Relationships 

Committed Intimate Relationship

With over 50 Years of Combined Experience, we are known in the local community for being fierce advocates!

When two parties are not married, but are living together in a serious, marriage-like relationship, that is called a Committed Intimate Relationship (previously known as a meretricious relationship). Oftentimes, people refer to this as common law marriage, which is not recognized in Washington. At Navigate Law Group, we can help determine if you and your partner’s relationship meets the definition of a Committed Intimate Relationship and if so, how to go about dividing any assets and debts. If you have minor children, the Court can also help determine a parenting schedule and child support. The one thing a Committed Intimate Relationship action cannot do is award spousal support to a party. When two parties are not married but there are children at issue (either theirs or one they are caring for), the Court can determine a parenting schedule and institute child support. At Navigate Law Group we can assist you through this process.

Cohabitation agreement

Cohabitation Agreements are written contracts that romantic couples enter into if they are planning on living together but are not married. It is a good idea to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement if you are living and acting like a martial unit (but you are not actually married) – i.e. sharing resources, living together, romantically intimate, etc. There are default laws that start applying as soon as these facts start to become reality, and a lot of non-married couples don’t know that and would prefer some of those default laws not apply. You can come up with your own agreement regarding the assignment and ownership of your assets and debts by entering into a Cohabitation Agreement with your partner. Our family law attorneys are happy to chat with you about this.

Committed Intimate Relationships or CIR

A committed intimate relationship or CIR is essentially a committed personal, romantic, and cohabiting relationship but the parties never get married. It looks like a marriage, walks like a marriage, and talks like a marriage, but the couple isn’t legally married. This is a very common scenario. If you are splitting from a long-term partner, you have rights. Chat with our attorneys to find out how everything should be divided.

Child Support 

When two people have a child together, they are both financially obligated to support that child. If parents break up, both remain financially responsible to that child. Typically, the parent who has the child the majority of the time will receive child support from the other parent monthly. Either parent can request child support be court-ordered. Child support can also be ordered when a third party (not the parent – like a family member or friend) has custody of a child. Navigate family law attorneys are skilled with child support issues and can guide you through the process.

Child Custody 

If two people have a child, both parents have constitutional rights to be a parent. If they break up after having a child, then either of them can request that the court order a parenting plan (shared parenting schedule). Child custody is the word that refers to parents’ rights to see their children and make decisions about them. Third parties (non-parents) can also obtain child custody in certain circumstances. Child custody or child visitation can be a complicated topic, and it is best to consult and strategize with an attorney about your situation and what you can expect regarding a shared parenting schedule.

Establishment of Parentage and Parenting Plans

It is common for unmarried parents to have children. If you are an unmarried parent and you want to establish a legal relationship and enforce your rights with your child, you will need to establish parentage and a parenting plan through the courts. Through this kind of legal action, you can establish who the biological parents are, who the child lives with primarily, how much time each parent will have with the child, and who gets to make important decisions for your child (such as health care, education, relocation). We can also assist if you need to disestablish parentage of a child (i.e. the parent listed on the birth certificate is not the parent of the child). Either establishing or disestablishing parentage can be somewhat complicated, and sometimes involves the state attorney.  Navigate Law Group family law attorneys can help.

De Facto Parentage

This is a legal action where a person can request that the court find them to be a de facto parent of a child to whom they are not biologically or legally related. The legal standard that the person must prove in order to be found a de facto parent is pretty steep. This type of case is very case-specific and depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to length of time residing with the child, holding the child out as your own, caring for the child, establishing a bond with the child, undertaking permanent responsibilities for the child, etc. It is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney before pursuing this action. We are here to help.

Non-Parent Custody

Non-parent custody is when a third party, who is not the parent (typically a grandparent, family member, or family friend), files a court action asking for legal custody of the child. The non-parent will need to prove that the parents are unfit to care for the child or that living with the parent is negatively affecting the growth and development of the child. If the parent believes they should keep the child, they can object and fight the request for non-parent custody. These situations can be particularly contentious, and our family law attorneys are ready to help you through it.

Minor Guardianship

Minor Guardianship is a legal action where a non-parent can request physical custody of a minor child. This legal action replaced Washington state’s prior non-parental custody law. Under the minor guardianship law, the court can appoint an emergency guardian or establish a long-term guardian of the child. An emergency guardianship can be obtained if the concerned person can show there is likely going to be substantial harm to the minor child if left in the parent’s care and if no other person appearing to have authority is willing to act to prevent the harm. Long term guardianship of a minor can be achieved if a court finds it is in the child’s best interest, and there is clear evidence that the parents are not willing or able to exercise parenting functions. Parents can also agree to have a third party take over guardianship of their minor child. Navigate Law Group’s family law attorneys can guide and advocate for you through this process. 

Non-Parent Visitation

This is a legal action where a close relative can request court-ordered visitation with a child if the child’s parents are obstructing visitation. The legal standard that the non-parent must prove in order to be awarded court-ordered visits is pretty steep. There are also potentially severe financial ramifications if you pursue this action and are not successful. It is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney before pursuing this action. We are here to help.

Temporary Orders

When you file a legal action for non-marital relationship issues, it is usually wise to get a temporary court order in place that establishes the ground rules that everyone must follow while you negotiate a final resolution. Temporary Orders in these circumstances are not automatic when you file your court action – you have to request them. If you don’t have temporary orders in place there aren’t any “rules” that either party has to follow about their conduct during the duration of your court action. This often leads to very chaotic situations and should be avoided. A party can request temporary orders for a variety of topics including but not limited to, parenting time, child support, restraining orders, and attorney’s fees. Temporary orders will remain in place until a different court order replaces them or until a stated expiration date. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney if you are considering filing a court action regarding non-marital relationship issues. Navigate Law Group attorneys are experienced and strategic, and will help you move through this process. 

Why Choose Our Family Law Attorneys for Your Committed Intimate Relationship Needs?

Our family law attorneys have over a combined 50 years worth of experience.  Navigate Law Group is known in the local community for our volunteer work and for being fierce advocates. Our Vancouver divorce attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience inside and outside of the courtroom, we can help you navigate every step of the way.


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