Some people might believe that if you live together long enough then you are married, and in some places that might even be true. But not California!
Of course, if you have been living together for 10 years it might seem like you've been together for an eternity, or forever, which must equal being married, right?
Well, that is just not how the law sees it in California. In California, a Community Property state, generally speaking there is no "common law" marriage (although if you are an out of state resident with a domicile in a different state, then other rules may apply). So if you want the property protections that a marriage affords, then don't expect a perceived common law relationship to make you married.
Desert retirees should be clear as to what constitutes marriage, and just living together for a long time doesn't do it.
In the past several years there has been a domestic partnership status as an alternative to marriage, and that option gives many rights that are given to married couples, but a couple must still formally apply for that status to be effective.
And even more recently was the case involving marriages between gay couples, and that itself is a topic for another Blog.