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Cohabitation

Cohabitants may litigate to obtain property, support, a share of an estate, or for derivative benefits such as wrongful death or survivor's benefits. This lesson reviews theories of recovery for cohabiting couples who were not formally married. The lesson explores contract, quasi-contract and equitable theories of recovery such as constructive and resulting trusts, quantum meruit, promissory estoppel and implied contract. Note that not all states allow all remedies reviewed in this lesson.

This lesson does not cover domestic partnerships or common law marriage. The lesson can be used as an introduction to the materials or for review.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:
1. Discuss the theories of recovery available to unmarried cohabitants and the requirements for each.
2. Analyze these theories of recovery as applied to cases involving unmarried cohabitants.

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