Was WA ever a common law state?

1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I did some brief research and here is the best answer I can come up with in a few minutes: Washington has no civil-law (Spanish, French) tradition. It can be assumed that its community property concept came by way of California. If I had not done the research, I would have thought that its adoption of CP was to take advantage of income splitting for federal income tax; I recall from a lecture of years ago that CP was enacted in several states for that reason, and that Congress then made income splitting (joint returns) generally available to married couples.)

    In fact, Washington CP dates from territorial times: a law of 1869, repealed in 1871 and substituted by "marital partnership". In 1873 that law was repealed and 5 days later the 1869 law was restored.

    Of course you may not be referring to community property at all, but to "common law marriage", in which case the answer is "not in modern times, at least not for other than tribal Native Americans": http://www.nolo.com/article.cfm/pg/2/objectId/709F...

    Or you could simply be asking whether Washington ever embrace the Civil Code, the way Louisiana and Puerto Rico and Quebec do; tthe answer to that is "no". (There was a movement to introduce the codification in California, but it failed; for research on that, look up "David Dudley Field" and the case "Li v. Yellow Cab".)

    Source(s): Hill, "Early Washington Marital Property Statutes", 14 Wash. L. Rev. 118 (1939)
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