Nearly 450 California statutes deal with rights, duties and privileges associated with heterosexual marriage, either in the statute itself or in its interpretation as reflected by annotations" These rights, duties and privileges comprise the California civil marital contract. The primary focus of this article is to distill, from all the rights, duties and privileges of that civil marital contract, most of those which may be incorporated into contracts between cohabiting adults. Statutes which do not lend themselves to inclusion in a contract between private parties have been excluded. This checklist will help legal practitioners provide accurate and comprehensive advice to couples about the entire range of subjects they may include in their cohabitation contracts. In turn, contracting couples will be able to make more informed, conscious choices about the legal aspects and implications of their relationships. While signing a contract does not have the same joyful, romantic associations as slipping on a ring or crushing a glass beneath a canopy, the heightened seriousness which comes with being aware of exactly what rights and responsibilities are entailed may well foster more stable relationships.
Contracting for Cohabitation: Adapting the California Statutory Marital Contract to Life Partnership Agreements Between Lesbian, Gay or Unmarried Heterosexual Couples, 23 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.