Friday, July 08, 2005

The Un-Marriage: The Meretricious Relationship

Example The Meretricious Relationship is when parties never intended to get married, but have co-habitated together. Sometimes there are children born of this relationship and when the relationship breaks down, then issues of establishing parentage and setting parental rights and duties must be dealt with in a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship or in a Suit to Establish Paternity. (To be discussed in a later posting). If there are no children involved then there may be issues of property division.

Some meretricious relationships last for many years and considerable comingling of financial resources can have occured. This describes many gay relationships.

Alimony (aka "maintenance") in the meretrious relationship is not avaliable to unmarried couples of any sex (TFC 8.001) Although there is no remedy for a partition of these comingled assets and debts under the Texas Family Code, the parties may find some relief under civil remedies of trusts, unjust enrichment, joint venture, or partnership.

Contractual Palimony is one option for unmarried couples to protect their economic interests. However, such contracts must be in writting and signed by the person obliged to the agreement. (TFC 1.108) Individuals interested in non-marriage cohabitation should consider entering into a Domestic Partnership Agreement.

For Houston area gay couples considering a cohabitation agreement or other related issues, I would highly recommend my friend Jerry Simoneaux and his firm of Nechman, Simoneaux and Frye, PLLC.