What Is a Common Law Marriage?
If you have been with your partner for years, do you have a common law marriage? And what does a common law marriage even mean? In this article, we will answer all of the questions you have about common law marriage in the United States.
What Is Common Law Marriage?
Common law marriage is a couple that acts like they are married and are considered married amongst their family and friends but have never gotten married. There are 4 requirements for a common law marriage:
- You must have lived together for your state’s required minimum
- You must have the intention to get married
- You must act as if you are married, for example, using each other’s surnames and call each other spouse.
- You must be legally able to get married, for example, 18 or older and not already married
What Are the Benefits of Common Law Marriage?
A common law marriage does not afford any legal protection. They will not have any automatic inheritance of their spouse’s assets after death or legal benefits. Common law marriages were created in the 1800s to allow couples to cohabitate without the need for marriage.
Can I Kick My Common Law Marriage Spouse Out?
Yes. While you cannot kick a married spouse out of your house until the divorce is finalized, you can kick out a common law marriage spouse. We recommend you speak to an attorney before you do so to ensure you do not face lawsuits.
Am I In a Common Law Marriage?
If you are wondering if you are in a common law marriage, then ask yourself the following questions. Often the courts will look at these factors to determine if a common law marriage exists when hearing a case.
- How long have you lived together?
- Do you have joint property like cars and houses?
- Do you have joint bank accounts?
- Do one of you use the other’s name?
- Do you have children together or are raising children together?
- Do you file joint tax returns?
- Do you share living expenses?
- Do you share household duties?
If you answered yes to most or all of those questions, the law would likely recognize you as having a common law marriage. Speak to an attorney to help you be sure.
Which States Have Common Law Marriage?
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- District of Columbia