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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 12997
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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In 1971 in Georgia I lived common law with to be husband for

Customer Question

in 1971 in Georgia I lived common law with to be husband for more than a year. we were married 9 years. Am I entitled to part of his ss. Common law marriage was a thing until 1979 to my knowledge, in Ga
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Georgia
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: not yet
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just if I am entitled to part of his ss? More than a year common law and 9 years married
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I am a licensed attorney and look forward to helping you. I am reviewing your question and will reply back shortly.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

As per Social Security, if you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, yes, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse's record (even if he remarried) if:

  • You are unmarried;
  • You are age 62 or older;
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits and
  • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse's work.

If you remarried, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse's record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment).

If your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his record if you have been divorced for at least two years.

To prove a common law marriage to Social Security, one of the following must be provided:

  • If you are both alive, then you must both provide statements that affirm your prior marriage and you must provide a statement from a blood relative of each of you.
  • If your former spouse has died, then you must provide a statement that affirms the marriage and two statements from blood relatives of your deceased spouse.

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Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I understand. But getting a blood relative is impossible. How about background checks to get our addresses?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

Common law marriage was valid in Georgia until 1/1/97 To establish a valid common-law marriage prior to 01/01/1997, the parties must have:

  • been able to contract;

  • agreed to live together as man and wife; and

  • consummated the agreement.

An agreement of marriage may be inferred from cohabitation and reputation (i.e., holding themselves out to the world as husband and wife) unless there is other evidence indicating that such an agreement was not present. At least one party must have shown good faith to establish a common-law marriage by cohabitation and reputation.

Consummation of agreement may be inferred by an express agreement of present intention to be man and wife.

Thus, I don't think a background check will necessarily be enough, because it will show you lived together, but not your relationship (e.g., you could have just been friends/roommates).

I would recommend you speak with Social Security. Since statements from blood relatives aren't possible, are there other people who knew about your marriage who can submit a statement, such as friends? Co-workers? I realize it was a long time ago at this point.

They may also allow you to submit other evidence -e.g., a tax return for the year you were common law married, showing a marital status of married, filing jointly.

Situations are reviewed on a case by case basis.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I don't have info on anyone from that time. I don't think anyone would assume we were friends. We were always together then married. If he has to go before a judge then it would come out.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
it's the common law part I need on my side. less than a year to 10 years married.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

My apologies for the slight delay; I had to leave for a brief appointment.

He won't gave to go in front of a judge, this is a decision that Social Security would make. But they do not spell out anywhere what they do in situations where a blood relative cannot vouch for the marriage. This may be a case where a sworn affidavit from you and your former spouse is enough. But that is why I also asked if you filed taxes together as married that year? On the off chance you have that return (or could request it from the IRS) that could also show that you considered yourselves married and held yourselves out as such.

Because the Social Security Administration doesn't state specifically what they do in these situations though, that is why I recommended earlier that you contact them directly and ask what they would take as evidence in a situation like this where you were married almost 40 years ago.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

More than 40 years ago, I should say.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We did represent ourselves as married one time to go to a motel I wore a wedding band
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.

I don't doubt that you were indeed common law married for a year. I am not the one who will make the decision though -that is up to Social Security. And like you said, finding anyone from around that time such as a family member or friend is not possible after so much time has passed. But, that is why I said you need to call and speak to someone and see what they want as far as proof of the marriage. It may be that they will be satisfied with a simple sworn affidavit from you and your ex spouse.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.
Good evening,Hope you are having a good Thanksgiving. Was there anything you need me to clarify about my answer or is there some additional information I can give you?If so, please let me know, and I'll be happy to help further. If not, would you be so kind as to leave a positive rating by clicking on the stars at the top of the page,as that is the only way experts are paid for our time. Thank you.