Contract Law Applied to Cohabiting Couple in Arizona
Under Arizona law, the community property laws protect each spouse’s share of the assets earned during a marriage. However, these protections only apply if the couple is actually married and not if they are cohabiting.
In Stevens v. Anderson, 256 P.2d 712 (1953), the Arizona Supreme Court considered the question of whether Arizona courts would enforce an agreement made by an unmarried, cohabiting couple to pool their earnings and share equally in all assets gained during their time together.
Facts of the Case
Ms. Stevens and Mr. Anderson began living together in 1918 and continued until RL’s death in 1951. His will left Annie $5,000 and a life estate in the home they lived in. He gave the remainder of the estate, about $43,000, to his siblings.
Annie challenged the will. She claimed that Mr. Anderson promised to take care of her when he died. This, she said, was in exchange for her undertaking all the duties of a wife.
She stated in a sworn deposition that he was never more specific than that. He never specified how he would take care of her financially. She also testified that she never contributed money to the purchase of the couple’s assets. Mr. Anderson held all of the assets in his own name.
The executor of the will moved for summary judgment, claiming that there were no facts in dispute. Mr. Anderson promised to take care of Ms. Stevens financially, and he left her a life estate and cash in his will. The lower court granted summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
No Independent Consideration
The parties lived together as husband and wife without being married. That means that they were in a “meretricious” relationship, that is, they did not have a marital relationship in Arizona. Even so, the Court said, their agreement might be enforceable if the consideration was more than fulfilling marital duties.
For example, if Ms. Stevens had worked and helped to buy the properties, she might have evidence of an independent contract. However, the Court found that all Ms. Stevens did was perform the services usually performed by a wife. Because of that, the Court could not grant her any alternative relief. The Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.
If you need information about contract law applied to a cohabitating couple in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona divorce case around today.
Arizona Family Law Attorneys in Scottsdale and Tucson Arizona
Other Articles About Community Property in Arizona
- Community Lien on Sole and Separate Property in Arizona
- Community Lien in Arizona
- Community Liens Separate Property in Arizona
- Community Property and Personal Guaranty in Arizona
- Determining Community Versus Sole Property in Arizona
- The difference Between Community and Separate Property in Arizona
- Disclaimer Deed in a Divorce in Arizona
- Divide Retirement Accounts in an Arizona Divorce
- Dividing Property Not Included in Divorce Decree in Arizona
- Division of Debt in an Arizona Divorce
- Do Rules Regarding Property Apply to Debts in an Arizona Divorce
- Enforce Division of Property and Debt in an Arizona Divorce
- Enforcing a Property Settlement Agreement in Arizona
- Filing a Lis Pendens in a Divorce in Arizona
- How is Property Divided in a Divorce in Arizona
- How to Divide Property in Arizona When a Spouse is Hiding Assets
- Is All Property Community Property in Arizona
- Is Arizona a 50 50 State in a Divorce
- Is Separate Property Divided in Arizona Divorce
- Marital Property Laws in Arizona
- Military Retirement Pay and Divorce in Arizona
- Pensions and Divorce in Arizona
- Separate Property Used to Purchase a Home During Marriage in Arizona
- Sole and Separate Property Divorce Arizona
- Is a Spouse Liable for Credit Card Debt in Arizona
- Stock Options Divided in an Arizona Divorce Case
- Stock Options in an Arizona Divorce
- Unequal Division of Property in Arizona Divorce
- Unfair Separation Agreement in Arizona
- Valuation and Distribution Options For Pensions in an Arizona Divorce
- What is Community Property in Arizona
- What is Separate Property in Arizona
Chris Hildebrand wrote the information on this page about the application of contract law to people who live together in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.