My partner & I have lived together since 1998, are we considered in a common law marriage?
Optional Information: Carlisle, Pennsylvania
ANSWER: YES. Well, on the other and, maybe. Much depends on what you and "spouse" did (or did not do) prior to January 1, 2005. Let me explain....... Effective January 1, 2005, by legislative action, Common Law Marriage was abolished in Pennsylvania. This law applies only to common law marriages entered into on and after January 1, 2005. As to all common law marriages properly entered into before January 1, 2005, these "marriages" will remain valid if they can be proven to be valid as required by law. And under Pennsylvania law, this can be a bit tricky. In order for a common law marriage to be found to be valid under Pennsylvania law, the party must prove that the man and the woman, before two witnesses, declared their present intent to be married by saying to each other words similar to: "From this date forward, I consider you to be my [wife] [husband]." There are no "magic words"; they only need to convey a present tense intent to be married. In essence, common law marriage under Pennsylvania law refers to simply an alternative method for getting married (but without a license). Neither consummation of the marriage nor Cohabitation is required. However, if one party claims the vows were made and the other party denies this, the court will look at how the parties conducted their lives. Did they live together? Did they introduce themselves to others as husband and wife? How did they file their taxes? The purpose of this inquiry is to help determine which party is telling the truth about the vows. If there is no claim that words of present intent were exchanged, there is no marriage no matter how long and how consistently the parties acted as if they were husband and wife. As you can see, common law marriage under Pennsylvania law is fraught with problems. If you want to be considered married, it is generally best to get a Marriage License and have a proper ceremony. And it is never too late to do this. Otherwise, you may think you are married, but what you think may not be legally correct. It is ultimately up to a judge to decide. But if you have a license and a ceremony, then there is no question about it. ========================= ---> NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER (“The Fine Print”): The foregoing response is based only on the facts gleaned from your inquiry and does not constitute a definitive legal analysis or evaluation of the facts and circumstances of your particular case and the law applicable thereto. The information provided here should not be the sole basis for your decision(s) regarding the handling or resolution of the legal problem or issue presented. Limitations and restrictions of this forum prevent any claim or guarantee as to the completeness, accuracy or adequacy of the information contained herein and no such claim is made or guarantee given. The foregoing response to your inquiry is not intended to be and should not be accepted as a substitute for the professional legal advice and counsel that can only be given by a lawyer licensed to practice in the state that has jurisdictional authority over the case. I am licensed to practice law only in the state of Oregon. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created by or through the response(s) given here. (Sorry this is so long. But I’m a lawyer, so it should come as no surprise.) Having answered your question, please acknowledge by clicking the green “ACCEPT” button. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed. Also, please add a few words of compliment in the feedback space. It isn’t required but it sure boosts my ego.
30+ years family law experience. QDROs, UIFSA, UCCJEA expertise.
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