Washington Law Review


Gavin M. Parr


In the 1995 case Connell v. Francisco, the Supreme Court of Washington adopted an innovative and groundbreaking rule to resolve the property rights of cohabitants upon separation. After Connell, upon termination of a "meretricious relationship," a trial court must perform a just and equitable distribution of the property acquired during the relationship that would have been community property had the parties been married. In adopting this rule, the supreme court sought to resolve property rights arising out of cohabitation in a predictable and equitable manner while maintaining the distinction between marriage and cohabitation. Unfortunately, the meretricious relationship fiction the court adopted as a prerequisite to ajust and equitable distribution tends to frustrate these goals. This Comment proposes that the supreme court replace the meretricious relationship fiction with a rule requiring trial courts to perform ajust and equitable distribution on the termination of any "intimate cohabitation."

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