Family attorneys fight hard for their clients, and they often have to help those clients navigate difficult situations. Perhaps you are divorcing your spouse, and you need help securing your financial future through alimony. Or maybe you are trying to adopt a child who has been the victim of abuse, and you need a lawyer to guide you through the legal process of gaining guardianship. A good family lawyer does not just help their clients navigate the law; they help their clients move forward into better life situations. We appreciate the work these attorneys do, and we have dedicated this blog to spread the word about their profession.
Common law marriage is one of those things that reside alongside several common myths. No one knows why some people have the idea that you must stay together for seven years to be in a common-law marriage. In fact, no such number exists. Read on for more surprising facts about common-law marriage.
Not All States Recognize Common Law Marriages
While you can still be common law married, the number of states that recognize this type of union is diminishing all the time. Currently, only 8 states recognize common-law marriage. For those who met the qualifications for common law marriage in states that later abolished it, some exceptions exist. Speak to a family law attorney to find out how your state views common-law marriage.
It Does Not Matter How Long You've Been Together
Time together is not important. There are many requirements for being common law married but the amount of time is not one of them. You can be common law married for legal purposes if you reside in a state that recognizes it even if you have only been together for only a day or so.
Common Law Marriage Rules Vary By State
Each state has its own rules about what makes a common-law marriage legal. In most cases, though, the couple must act like a married couple when it comes to the community, worship, financial matters, and more. It may not be necessary to have a church service to be legally common law married, for instance, but you should refer to yourselves as married.
There Are Legal Benefits to a Common Law Marriage
Being common-law married is not just about forming and codifying a relationship. Common law couples can benefit from the tax situation, for instance, in states that recognize it. Being common law married also matters when it comes to child custody, government benefits, probate matters, and next-of-kin status when dealing with medical issues.
If You Split Up, You Will Need a Common Law Divorce
When a common law couple decides to split up, they cannot just walk away from the marriage. If you held yourself out to be married and took advantage of taxes and other advantages, then you must also obtain a legal divorce. And there is no such thing as a common law divorce. Couples who wish to part ways must file for a traditional divorce just like everyone else in that state does. Problems can obviously occur when the parties don't agree on whether they were truly common law married. Child custody, spousal support, marital property, and debt should be decided according to the laws that govern the state.
If you are in a common-law marriage and wish to divorce, speak to a lawyer right away. This type of divorce may be more problematic than many.
Contact a local divorce attorney to learn more.