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I live in Nebraska where they do not recognize common law

Customer Question

I live in Nebraska where they do not recognize common law marriages since 1923. I have been in a relationship with my partner of the opposite sex for 21 years. I am his POA for finances and medical. He recently was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. I checked into signing up for FMLA with my employer and was told I do not qualify. I see that they have changed the verbage for FMLA to recognize same-sex marriages even if done in a different state of residence. Is there any law that would apply to me for common law, even from another state, and if so what states.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 months ago.

Good afternoon Kerry,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

FMLA recognizes same sex marriages for federally mandated FMLA benefits because the US has ruled same sex marriages to be legal in all 50 states now.

Federal law has never recognized the right of common law marriage if the state where the marriage was to have occurred does not recognize it. Consequently, there is no way to convert your relationship to a recognizable marriage under federal law unless the state where you claim to have been common law married allowed common law marriage at the time.

So for example, if you have been common law married under Colorado law and moved to Nebraska, the Nebraska employer would have to grant you FMLA leave because CO---where you celebrate the marriage allowed for common law marriage.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I hope that I have been able to fully answer your question. As I am not an employee of JustAnswer, please be so kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am compensated for assisting you. Thank you in advance.

I wish you and yours the best in 2016,


Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 months ago.

Good evening,

Do you have any additional questions that you would like me to address for you?

In case you would like a phone call to further discuss these issues you have raised, I will make that offer to you. You are certainly not obligated to accept a call offer, but many people do find it helpful for clarification purposes, as well as to allow them to ask additional questions.

As I have provided you with the information you asked for, would you please now rate my service to you so I can be compensated for assisting you?

Thanks in advance,


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