Losing a loved one is tragic, especially in a wrongful death case. There is much to be done with regards to wills and asset transfers. If you’re married, the process is easy. But what about a common law marriage? Does that count as legally binding? There is more than one way to be considered married according to a family lawyer from our friends at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC. While many may believe that in order to be married, a marriage license must be obtained and vows must be said in front of friends and family; however, this is not the case. Common law marriages are marriages that are considered informal and are not formally registered through a marriage license. These marriages are just as valid as formal ones; however there are certain requirements that must be met before the marriage can be proven. Under normal circumstances proving that you are in a common law marriage is unnecessary, but there are specific conditions that require it.
There are multiple instances where proving a common law marriage is necessary; however most of them involve end of life proceedings. The first situation would be in the even of a death of a loved on. In order to “inherit” land or other properties that one party owned, common law marriage must be proven. In terms of contesting the conditions of a will, in the case that one of the parties of the marriage has been left out, proven common law marriage will help someone attain the assets listed in the will. In this same vein, another situation in which common law marriage must be proven is for “insurance” purposes. When a loved one dies and life insurance needs to be claimed, proof of marriage is a necessary part of the case. One last case when proof of a common law marriage is required is in a “divorce”. Common law divorces do not exist and normal divorce procedures need to be conducted in order to get a divorce from a partner.
Before proving that they are in common law marriage, the parties involved must first meet all state laws regarding marriage. These laws are very simple in most states as there are only three. First, the couple must be “18 years of age”.
Secondly, the couple must not be “married to anyone else”. Lastly, the couple must “not be related to each other”. Given that all these laws are all met a common law marriage can ensue. In order to prove a common law marriage another three requirements must be met. The first is that both parties must “agree to be married”. This requirement is fairly simple to do as well as prove in a court of law. The second condition is that both partners must “live together” as partners. This is another fairly easy requirement to prove.
Both parties must live at the same address and live as a husband and wife normally would. The third and final requirement is that both parties need to “represent to others” that they are married to each other. This would include introducing your partner to others as husband or wife, instead of using other terminology. While these three lawful requirements are necessary to prove a common law marriage, one that is not required is “registering” the marriage. This may seem similar to getting a marriage license, they are not the same. Registering the common law marriage is as simple as “filing a declaration with the country clerk”. This step can be encouraged as if it becomes necessary to prove this marriage, the declaration can be used without proof of the aforementioned steps being provided. To be clear, the above steps still do need to be taken, but the declaration can be held out as proof instead of finding the proof for each individual requirement.
It is important to understand the requirements of a common law marriage in the state that you live in. This way when unfortunate events happen in life, less stress can be involved when it comes to who you love. Contact a family lawyer near you for help if you have questions about common law marriages.