Common Law Marriage Process and Conditions for Establishing

Comman Law Marriage

Not many will be familiar with the term “Common Law Marriage.” Well, this is a kind of marriage system, which was quite popular in the United States in 1877 and is still prevailing in many countries. You will be surprised to know that Common Law Marriage is currently legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia in some or other form. In addition, five states recognize common law marriage under certain conditions.

So, what is Common Law Marriage?

We will discuss the same in this post. If you want to understand this form of marriage, scroll down to read the full article.

Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

1. Common Law Marriage

Common Law Marriage, also known as informal marriage, non-ceremonial marriage, marriage by habit and repute, or sui iuris marriage, is a legal framework in which a couple can be considered married without legally registering their relationship as a civil or religious marriage.

These marriages are a legally recognized union between two persons who did not get a marriage license or have their union improperly solemnized (due to a mistake on the marriage license). There aren’t common law marriage statutes in every State. Validity is determined in several states by case law and public policy.

The only need for a common law marriage to be recognized was mutual agreement to enter into marital relations. However, such weddings were subject to the same age and sanguinity restrictions as formal marriages.

In the twentieth century, these marriages were legal in and around the states, either unconditionally or conditionally.

Let’s see how common law marriages take place.

2. What is the process of establishing a common law marriage?

A common law marriage is established when a couple lives together for a period of time and presents themselves as “married” to their friends, family, and community. However, common law couples do not opt for formal ceremony or obtain a marriage certificate.

A common law marriage is just as lawful and binding as a formalized marriage once it is established.

3. What are the conditions for establishing common law marriage?

Well, know that just “living together” is not sufficient to establish a common law marriage. There are some more conditions prevalent in most states. Here are those conditions:

  • You must cohabitate (amount of time varies by State).
  • You must both have the legal right to marry, sometimes known as “ability to marry.”
  • Both of you must be at least 18 years old (varies by State).
  • Both of you must be in good mental health.
  • None of you must be married to anyone else.
  • You must both want to be married.
  • You must present yourselves as a married pair to your friends and family.
  • You must have the same last name as your partner.
  • You must address each other as “husband,” “wife,” or “spouse” in public.
  • You must have joint bank accounts and credit cards.

4. States that Recognize Common Law Marriage

The following are the ten states that fully recognize common law marriage:

  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • New Hampshire
  • Texas
  • Utah

5. What is the procedure for separation in common law marriage?

Just like any other marriage, a common law marriage also lasts until one of the partners dies or the court grants a divorce.

Well, different states have different laws for common law marriage. However, so far the divorce is concerned, terminating a common law marriage is similar to dissolving a legal marriage in the states. A common law couple must petition for divorce if they intend to divorce.

You can end up in a common law marriage even if you don’t have the legal competence to marry when you start living with someone.

Related: All The Marriage Paperwork You Need to Know

6. In the event of the untimely death of one partner, are common law couples entitled for each other’s insurance?

Suppose your partner (and presumed spouse) dies before you’ve formally established your common law marriage. In that case, you’ll need to prove your marriage to acquire and get insurance, Social Security Survivor’s Payments, or pension benefits.

Couples who opt not to proclaim their common law marriage should present legal documents such as tax returns, insurance policies, and lease agreements to prove their marriage.

If no declaration was filed and a disagreement arose as to whether or not a common law marriage existed, it may be required to go to court to establish the marriage.

To sum up…

So that’s all there is to it when it comes to common law marriage. Hopefully, this article has answered your questions about common law marriage.

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