Between the year 2000 and 2010, the number of couples who were living together instead of getting married rose by 25%, according to the United States Census. There are various reasons why a couple may choose not to marry, even though many go through their daily lives much like a married couple. Although some states will make a default assumption that those who live together long-term are married by "common law" and will treat them as such if this is the case in the event of one person's death. California is not among these states.
More and more people are choosing to have a committed relationship without getting married. While this is a personal choice that must be respected, it is also one that requires at least a look at the legal ramifications of being unmarried.