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Massachusetts Law About Unmarried Couples

Selected Case Law

Charron v. Amaral, 451 Mass. 767 (2008). "A claim for a loss of consortium cannot arise unless the family member has, inter alia, a legal relationship with the injured third party. In the case of adult couples, the legal relationship is established by marriage. This court consistently has rejected the idea that cohabiting adults, even those who could demonstrate a commitment to each other, could recover" for loss of consortium.

Feliciano v. Rosemar Silver Co., 401 Mass. 141, 142 (1987). The court will not recognize a "right to recover for loss of consortium by a person who has not accepted the correlative responsibilities of marriage."

Wilcox v. Trautz, 427 Mass 326 (1998). Case discusses issues involved in dividing the property of unmarried cohabitants at some length. "To the extent we have not previously done so, we adopt the view that unmarried cohabitants may lawfully contract concerning property, financial, and other matters relevant to their relationship. Such a contract is subject to the rules of contract law and is valid even if expressly made in contemplation of a common living arrangement, except to the extent that sexual services constitute the only, or dominant, consideration for the agreement, or that enforcement should be denied on some other public policy ground."

Other Web Sources

A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, Nolo, 2012. This online book is not specific to Massachusetts. Requires Library Card for access.

Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, Nolo, 2013. Online version of a popular book includes: The Legal State of Living Together; Living Together Agreements: Why and How; Debt, Credit, Taxes, and More: Practical Aspects of Living Together; Renting and Sharing a Home; Buying a House Together; Starting a Family; You and Your Ex-Spouse and Children From a Prior Relationship; Wills and Estate Planning; When Unmarried Couples Separate. Requires Library Card for access.

Making it legal : a guide to same-sex marriage, domestic partnership & civil unions / Frederick C. Hertz with Emily Doskow, Nolo, 2011. A brief history of the same-sex marriage movement -- Same-sex marriage around the world and at home -- What it means to be married -- The real life consequences of legal discrimination -- Marriage material -- Ten steps to a decision -- To prenup or not to prenup? -- Avoiding the ugly gay divorce -- Estate planning for same-sex couples -- Legal change in action: how change happens and what to expect. Requires Library Card for access.

Print Sources

Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions, Nolo, 2011.