A case in NY shows some need for legal system to make sense of cohabiting.
What happens when a couple that’s been together for 14 years and has joint bank accounts and residence gets divorced? In some states, they would probably be common law married (Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah). And in the UK, there are laws that protect cohabiting partners. But really there are no laws established in these parts to do anything from a legal standpoint for ‘domestic partners,’ irrespective of their sexual preference.
So, a couple of women living in New York have been living as wife and wife for the last 14 years. And now they’ve decided a split is best. But that split is the only thing that they have concurring opinions about. It turns out that one of the women is heir to a massive fortune. And a certain lifestyle came to be expected. Sounds like a marriage, right? And it sounds like someone may expect spousal support, right? No and no, argues the wealthier woman’s legal team. The two actually signed a 1995 living-together document. It basically states that no one gets to ask for anything in case of a split. The real trouble started when the wealthier woman denied the other access to their co-op and ended her life insurance back in 2006.
Lawyers, disputed property, hard feelings, claims for spousal support? Yep, it sounds like a divorce to us. As fewer and fewer people are getting married, problems like this will continue to arise. Once again, the movie Love Stinks (French Stewart, Bill Bellamy, Bridgette Wilson, Tyra Banks, Jason Bateman, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, spousal support for a live-in) should have shown us the way. Hopefully, everyone will take the work of French Stewart a lot more seriously in the future. And states will possibly start figuring out legislation about how to pick up the pieces When Cohabiting Goes Bad on Fox.