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Common Law Marriage Related Questions

What is a common law marriage?

A common law marriage is where a marriage exists by mutual agreement between a man and a woman, or by the fact of their cohabitation, without a civil or religious ceremony. A common-law marriage is legally binding in some common law jurisdictions but has no legal consequence in others. In some jurisdictions — jurisdictions that do not recognize common-law marriages for example — the term "common-law marriage" is used as a synonym for non-marital relationships such as a domestic partnership or a reciprocal beneficiary’s relationship.

Is Common Law Marriage recognized in Pennsylvania?

There are only 9 states in the US that recognize common law marriages — Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas. The District of Columbia recognizes common-law marriages contracted within its borders.

Pennsylvania is not a state that recognizes common law marriages. However, the state is among five states that have "grandfathered" common law marriage — Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania recognize and allow common law marriages established before a certain date. The date for PA is 1/1/2005. If you have been in a common law marriage before that date, it would be recognized as such. If you have been in a common law marriage, either in one of the above states or elsewhere and have questions about the legal implications of your common law marriage, Lawyers on JustAnswer specializing in marriage law can answer your questions.

Are common law marriages recognized in the state of California?

California does not recognize common law marriages. However, if your common law marriage is recognized in another state where you currently reside, the state of California will honor that. In order for a common law marriage to be viable, both parties have to attest that they're married under common law and hold themselves out to others as being married.

If a couple lives together in Texas how would they go about establishing a common law marriage?

Any couple who want to establish a common-law marriage must sign a form provided by the county clerk. In addition, they must (1) agree to be married, (2) cohabit, and (3) represent to others that they are married. Informal marriage rather than a common-law marriage is the proper name for such a marriage. According to the Texas law, an informal marriage can be established either by declaration (registering at the county courthouse without having a ceremony), or by meeting a three-prong test showing evidence of (1) an agreement to be married; (2) cohabitation in Texas; and (3) representation to others that the parties are married.

If a minister failed to record the common law marriage 30 years ago when the state recognized common law marriages, how would a person get a divorce now without a marriage certificate?

Without a marriage certificate, the marriage is not legally registered and there is no way you can prove you were "married". Since there is no marriage license or marriage certificate, this would also mean there would is no reason to file for a divorce. However, as long as you can prove there was an oral or written agreement between the partners to live together, there are still legal recourses available to ensure that the assets acquired in the partnership are split properly. If you are not sure of the provisions of the law and whether you need to retain the services of an attorney, you could explain your situation to a Lawyer on JustAnswer. The insights and opinions you receive could point you in the right direction.

There could be any number of reasons why a couple would want to live together without entering into a formal marriage. For those living in a state that recognizes common law marriages, entering into a common law marriage is one way to give the relationship a legal recognition and make legal provisions for future contingencies. Questions about common law marriages and other aspects of marriage law are common on JustAnswer. Family law Experts on JustAnswer can answer your questions about common law marriages.
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