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Dating isn't what it used to be in Washington or elsewhere in the country. In many cases, couples are now meeting through online dating services such as Match.com. There are even dating websites that now cater to older adults, including SilverSingles.com and dating.aarp.org.

Because of the significant spike in the divorce rate among the 50 and older demographic, online matchmakers know that there are many older Americans who are single and looking to mingle with others their own age.

According to sociologists from Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate among those 50 and older has more than doubled during the past two decades. That means the potential dating pool is larger than ever for the baby boomer generation (those who were born between 1946 and 1964).

While some boomers will create new relationships and decide to marry their new partners, others may decide to be involved in relationships without entering a legal union. Part of the reasoning for this may be to avoid the prospect of another divorce and potential property division requirements.

However, an important thing to note for Washington residents is that it is still possible to be considered in a "meretricious" relationship and sometimes a common law marriage without ever actually getting married in the state.

Meretricious relationships and common law marriages are noteworthy because they can require a property settlement when the relationship ends -- even though a marriage didn't occur.

Washington family law courts determine whether a meretricious relationship exists by considering factors that were outlined by the Washington Supreme Court, including continuous cohabitation, the duration of the relationship, the purpose of the relationship, the intent of both parties and the pooling of assets and resources.

Further, Washington courts do not recognize common law marriages that originated in the state, but they do honor common law marriages that were created in other states.

Ultimately, baby boomers who enter new relationships may want to consider prenuptial agreements or cohabitation agreements to protect their assets whether they plan to marry or not. For more information on this very complex area of law, talk to an experienced family law attorney in your area.

Source: Times Free Press, "Gray divorcees: Shifting divorce culture claims more couples over 50," Karen Nazor, April 20, 2014

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