Common Law Marriage
Contrary to popular belief, common law marriages do not automatically occur after a couple has been living together after a certain amount of time. In actuality, common law marriages are not even recognized in all states, although the states that do recognize common law marriages offer several benefits to these types of couples.
Requirements for Common Law Marriages
In order to fully earn the common law status, a couple typically must fulfill certain requirements in a state that actually recognizes the practice. These requirements include:
- Living together for an extended amount of time (there is no absolute minimum)
- Believing themselves to be married and acting as such, such as referring to each other as husband and wife, filing joint tax returns, and using the same last name
- Intending to get married at some point
Of course, some of these are nebulous and difficult to prove, but if you do fall under the common law marriage category, states can offer you benefits as befitting your relationship.
Spousal Rights in Common Law Marriages
States that recognize common law marriages tend to give the couple the same legal rights as those who are bound under a regular marriage. These benefits can include:
- Spousal inheritance in wills
- Decision-making power and visitation rights in hospitals
- Alimony after separation
Divorce for Common Law Marriages
If you are part of a common law marriage and decide to split up, you may be required to file for a traditional divorce. This is especially important for couples with children, as well as those who have integrated their finances and need help dividing up the property. However, you should consult a lawyer in your state about whether or not you need to file for divorce from a common law marriage.
For more information regarding common law marriages and divorce, contact the Denton divorce lawyers of Alexander & Associates today by calling 972-420-6560.
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