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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
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Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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Does the military recognize Common Law marriages My wife

Resolved Question:

Does the military recognize Common Law marriages?

My wife and I are divorcing. She was married for a month and a half to her previous husband after we were married. We moved shortly after our marriage to Alabama and is claiming common law marriage status as we represented ourselves as married while we were there. My attorney in NC is telling me that the military will see the original marriage to me to be validated by the common law statue of Alabama. I am uncertain that is correct and looking for a second opinion.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Between my law practice and other law related jobs, I have over 13 years experience. I look forward to assisting you.

The military does not have its own rules on what is and is not marriage. Instead, they recognize the legal determinations of the various states.

If you are legally considered marriage in a state, then the military will recognize that marriage as valid.

Now, I'm not really sure what that has to do with whether or not your "spouse" would be entitled to half of your retirement. The law on divorce in the military dictates no result. Military retirement is not automatically split. Rather, all the military law does in that regard is to grant the state court the jurisdiction to consider the military retirement during a division of the assets. The court could grant 50%, 0% or something in between and none of those results would offend the military law on the issue.

As for her being entitled to medical, she would have to establish a legal marriage for at least 20 years, overlapping 20 years of military service, before she'd have any entitlement to insurance. Anything less than that and she has no legal entitlement at all.
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