What Is Common Law Marriage?

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Common law marriage is a topic many people do not understand. While most states no longer recognize common law marriage, there are some states that do. If you have a difficult time understanding common law marriage, you are not alone.

The Details of Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is a marriage in which no official marriage license has ever been issued. Individuals who have a common law marriage identify as marriage and have typically lived together for a long period of time. They may file joint taxes, and they may also be required to obtain a legal divorce if they wish to separate.

In states where common law marriage is recognized, couples receive the same benefits as a married couple. They can share healthcare, divide property, and owe spousal support. Plus, they do not have to spend money on a wedding and can instead achieve the benefits of marriage without the pomp and circumstance.

The States That Don't Recognize Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is not recognized by every state. Even if you take your partner's last name and live together for decades, you will not be considered married in the eyes of the law. As a result, you will not need to go through a formal divorce proceeding if you choose to separate from each other.

Some states may recognize different aspects of common law marriage. For example, they may consider the financial situation of a couple that has been together for a long time if the parties claim they had a common law marriage from another state.

The Next Step

Are you unsure about your state's laws? Do you have a common law marriage that was valid in another state? If you wish to separate, divorce, or establish spousal support, you may need to take a few extra steps.

Your next step is to consult with a family law attorney. Whether you are living together or you consider yourself married, you may need to create a contract that helps you develop boundaries and rules for the end of your relationship. Even if you wish to stay together but want to establish some groundwork for your relationship, a contract can be beneficial.

Additionally, a family law attorney can help you determine the best steps to take when you want to end a long-term relationship when you have children. Whether or not you have a common law marriage, you need to set guidelines for custody and child support.

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24 September 2019

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