Common Law Marriage: What It Is and How It Can Benefit You
Have you ever wondered what a common law marriage is? How is it different from a traditional marriage?
Why do some couples opt for it? If you’re in a long-term relationship and thinking of tying the knot, or maybe you’ve been living together for years, then this article is for you.
What is Common Law Marriage? Common law marriage, also known as a non-ceremonial marriage, is a legally recognized union of two individuals without a marriage license or a formal wedding ceremony.
In simpler terms, it means you’re considered married by law if you’ve cohabitated for a certain amount of time, typically seven years, and hold yourselves out as a married couple. Each state has its own laws regarding common law marriage.
Some states recognize it, while others do not. In states that do recognize common law marriage, the couple needs to meet certain criteria, such as sharing a home, presenting themselves as a married couple, and having the intent to be married.
The purpose of Common Law Marriages
One of the benefits of common law marriage is financial. Married couples are eligible for various benefits and protections that unmarried couples do not have.
Here are some of the benefits common law marriage can provide:
Social Security Benefits
If you’ve been living with your partner for a long time and you’re both close to retirement age, you might be eligible for social security benefits based on your partner’s earnings record. However, you need to meet certain requirements such as being together for at least nine months, among others.
Many employers offer benefits such as medical insurance, life insurance, and pension plans to spouses of their employees. If you’re in a common law marriage, you can potentially receive those benefits without having to get a marriage license or have a formal wedding ceremony.
Married couples can file their income tax returns jointly, which can often result in significant tax savings. Common law couples who meet certain criteria can also file their income tax returns jointly.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows one person to act on behalf of another person in legal or financial matters. In a common law marriage, one partner can grant the other power of attorney without having to go through a formal legal process.
When someone dies intestate, meaning they didn’t leave a will, their property will be distributed according to state laws. In a common law marriage, the surviving partner automatically inherits the deceased partner’s assets, including property and possessions.
In summary, common law marriage can provide financial stability, tax benefits, legal rights, and inheritance protections to couples who don’t have a marriage license or a formal wedding ceremony. In conclusion, common law marriage is a type of legal union that can offer you and your long-term partner various benefits and protections, just like a traditional marriage.
However, it’s important to note that not all states recognize common law marriage, and you need to meet certain criteria to claim the benefits. If you’re considering common law marriage, it’s wise to consult with a lawyer who specializes in family law to know your rights and obligations.
Remember, the most important factor in any relationship is love and commitment. Whether you choose to get married or not, what matters most is that you and your partner are happy and fulfilled.
Pros and Cons of Common Law Marriage: Everything You Need to Know
Common law marriage is a relationship model that could work for some couples, but not for everyone. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of common law marriage before choosing it as an option.
Here’s what you need to know.
Advantages of Common Law Marriage
Access to Benefits
Common law marriage can provide financial stability, tax benefits, legal rights, and inheritance protections to couples who don’t have a marriage license or a formal wedding ceremony. Married couples are eligible for various benefits that unmarried couples do not have access to, such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and social security.
In a common law marriage, property is divided as in any other marriage in accordance with the law. If the couple separates before they are married, they have no legal rights to claim each other’s property.
Upon separation, any property acquired during the relationship will be divided according to the laws of the state.
Child Custody Rights
When children are involved, common law marriage provides legal recognition of the relationship, which can be especially important if the couple separates. With legal recognition, it is easier to establish the custody of the children.
Disadvantages of Common Law Marriage
Difficulties in Proving Marriage
One huge disadvantage of common-law marriage is that it is often difficult to prove. It’s up to the couple to demonstrate they are married in the eyes of the law, and this can prove complex, especially if they have kept their relationship discreet.
Loss of Property Rights
In a common law marriage, each partner has no legal rights over each others property, which means that should the relationship end, you may not be entitled to half of your partners wealth, property, or possessions, like you would be in a formally-recognized, traditional marriage. This can result in unequal distribution of assets, particularly if one partner is the primary earner.
Common Law Marriage Requirements
Stipulations for Entering into a Common Law Marriage
Eligibility for Marriage
To enter into a common law marriage, couples must meet the criteria set by each state. The couple must be adults, and not be related.
The law might also set a length of time for the couple to have lived together, which may range from several weeks to several years, depending on the state.
The couple must live together under the same roof for a certain amount of time, usually seven years. However, the length of cohabitation required varies from one state to the next.
Presenting as Married
The couple must present themselves to the public as married. Meaning, they should be recognized in the community as having the same legal rights as a married couple.
This could include things such as sharing finances and sharing last names.
Capacity to Marry
Both partners must have the capacity to marry. This includes being of legal age, having the mental capacity to enter into a legally binding agreement, and not being already married or in a civil partnership or domestic partnership.
Indicating Intention to Marry
The couple must indicate an intention to be married. This means they must have a mutual intention to enter into a permanent, exclusive union, for example, by stating that they are “husband and wife.”
In summary, common law marriage is a legal relationship that offers some benefits and protections to couples who do not have or wish to have a marriage license or formal wedding ceremony.
For some couples, it may be the best option. Before deciding on common law marriage, however, it is important to weigh the pros and cons, understand the requirements, and take into account the specific laws of the state in which you reside.
Same-Sex Couples and Common Law Marriage: How the Law Has Changed
Common law marriage is not just for heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples can also enter into common law marriage, provided they meet the necessary requirements.
In recent years, same-sex couples have faced legal battles in regard to their right to common-law marriage, but changes have been made that have bolstered their chances of enjoying this legally-binding union.
Legality of Same-Sex Common Law Marriage
The Supreme Court decision of 2015 made it possible for same-sex couples to marry across the US. This landmark ruling declared that same-sex couples have the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples.
While this ruling did not specifically address common law marriage, it paved the way for same-sex common law marriages.
In the 2015 case, Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court declared that states must license and recognize same-sex marriages.
This ruling made it easier for same-sex couples to enjoy common-law marriage. Couples now have the right to the same benefits, protections, and recognition as heterosexual couples.
Recognition by States
Recognition of same-sex relationships still varies between states, but common law marriage is now legal across the US and same-sex couples are treated no differently than heterosexual couples. Regardless of gender, couples must meet the necessary requirements for common law marriage in their state in order to qualify.
States Recognizing Common Law Marriage
One of the biggest factors couples need to consider when contemplating common law marriage is whether their state recognizes it. Here is a list of states that recognize common law marriage:
– District of Columbia
– New Hampshire
– Rhode Island
– South Carolina
Laws vary by state, so it is important for couples to understand the requirements for common law marriage in their state. In some states, for example, there is a requirement for the couple to have cohabitated for a certain amount of time, while other states do not have that requirement.
Some states may require the couple to have a shared bank account, file taxes jointly, or present themselves as married to others.
Legal recognition of common law marriage also varies by state. Some states recognize common law marriage only if the relationship was established before a certain date, while others recognize it for relationships that began after that date.
The requirements for proving a common-law marriage also vary by state.
Common Law Marriage by State
In summary, common law marriage is a legally binding union that offers many benefits to both same-sex and heterosexual couples. The legality of same-sex common-law marriage was a long-time coming, but it is now a recognized and protected right across the US.
Nevertheless, it is important for couples to understand the requirements for common law marriage in their state, and to ensure that they meet those requirements before assuming they are legally married. How to Tell If a Common Law Marriage Exists: A Guide to Recognizing the Relationship
Common law marriage is a legally recognized union that forms when a couple meets the requirements set by state law.
While it may seem simple enough, determining whether a common law marriage exists can be complicated. Here are some ways to determine if a common law marriage exists.
The best way to determine if a common law marriage exists is to communicate with your partner. Discussing your relationship status, intentions, and expectations can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that both parties are on the same page.
Open communication about the nature of the relationship is a key component of establishing a common law marriage.
Each state has its own requirements for common law marriage, so it is important to be aware of these laws. States that recognize common law marriage usually have specific criteria that must be met before a couple can be considered legally married.
It is recommended to consult with an attorney to understand the laws of your state.
Unlike traditional marriages, common law marriages do not require a marriage license or formal ceremony. However, some states require couples to register their common law marriage with the state.
In those states, a marriage license or registration certificate can serve as evidence of the common law marriage. Duration of
Living Together for Common Law Marriage
Requirements for Time Lived Together for Common Law Marriage
The amount of time a couple must live together to be eligible for a common law marriage varies depending on the state.
While some states do not have a specific time requirement, others require the couple to have lived together for a certain period before they are considered legally married.
Most states require that a couple lives together for a specific amount of time before they are eligible for a common law marriage. The length of time varies between states and can range from several months to several years.
In some states, the couple may be deemed married after living together for as little as three months, while in others, they must cohabitate for at least seven years before the relationship is recognized.
Statutory requirements for common law marriage vary by state and depend on the length of time the couple has lived together. Some states don’t have a statutory requirement, while others mandate that the couple cohabitates for a specified duration before a common law marriage can be established.
In order to determine the duration required, couples should consult the state laws or seek guidance from an attorney. In summary, knowing how to determine if a common law marriage exists is important if a couple wishes to be eligible for legal protections and benefits.
Open communication, knowledge of state laws, and understanding the length of time required to establish a common law marriage can all help couples establish their relationship status. Whether a couple chooses common law marriage or a traditional marriage, communication and shared expectations are key to a successful union.
Difference Between Common Law Marriage and Civil Unions: Explained
While both common law marriage and civil unions are legally recognized relationships, there are differences between them. Understanding the differences between common law marriage and civil union can help couples choose the type of relationship that best suits their needs.
Comparison of Common Law Marriage and Civil Union
Common law marriage is a recognized relationship for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, whereas civil unions were initially established as an alternative to same-sex marriage. Civil unions were created to provide same-sex couples with many of the legal protections and benefits of marriage.
Married couples are typically eligible for numerous job-related benefits, such as healthcare, life insurance, and retirement plans. In states that have legalized civil unions, same-sex couples can receive many of the same benefits as married couples.
However, in states that do not recognize civil unions, same-sex couples may not have access to these benefits. Common law marriage provides married couples with the same job related benefits as same-sex marriage and traditional marriage.
Unlike traditional marriage, common law marriage and civil unions are not recognized by the federal government. This means that couples in common law marriage and civil unions do not receive federal tax benefits like married couples do.
This can be particularly important for same-sex couples who live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
Financial Impacts of a Common Law Marriage
Effects of Entering into a Common Law Marriage
Couples in common law marriage can enjoy many of the same financial benefits as those in traditional marriage. This includes access to job-related benefits, such as healthcare and retirement planning, and joint tax filing, which can result in significant tax savings.
Married couples enjoy tax exemptions that are not available to unmarried couples. Common law marriage allows couples to file taxes jointly, which can save them a lot of money in the long run.
In a common law marriage, the surviving partner automatically inherits the deceased partner’s assets, including property and possessions. This can be particularly important for couples who have been together for a long time but have not gotten married in the traditional sense.
In the event of a separation, assets are divided according to the laws of the state. Common law marriage provides married couples with the same legal rights for the division of assets as traditional marriage.
In summary, common law marriage and civil unions are legally recognized relationships that offer couples many of the same benefits as traditional marriage. Understanding the difference between these relationships can help couples choose the type of relationship that best suits their needs.
By entering into a common law marriage, couples can enjoy many financial benefits, such as tax exemptions and asset division, just like couples in traditional and same-sex marriage. FAQs About Common Law Marriage: What You Need to Know
Common law marriage is a union that can offer many benefits to couples who choose this arrangement rather than a traditional marriage.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about common law marriage.
Common law marriage dates back to the 13th century, when the Catholic Church established marriage as a sacrament. By the 18th century, common law marriage was an established legal practice.
However, it was not until the Civil War that the practice became more widespread as couples faced the