Marriage Law

Some States of the Common Law Marriages

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While a couple might not have fulfilled the requirements of a specific state on how to properly get married, a common-law marriage is one in which the couple has lived together for at least a year. While the time varies on how long they must live together, a common-law marriage simply states that they have the same legal rights as a married couple without being married.

Some states, though, don’t offer common-law marriage. No matter how long a couple lives together, there is no such thing as a “marriage” and if they break up, it is as simple as that. However, in the past, states that didn’t have common law marriages would still have to recognize common law marriages from other states. This was a clause in the U.S. Constitution known as “full faith and credit.” This meant that if a couple got married in New York, they’d have to be recognized as a couple in Arizona. Congress passed a law, though, known as the Defense of Marriage Act that overrides the full faith and credit rule. If a state doesn’t want to recognize common-law marriage, it doesn’t have to.

There are some things that go along with a common-law marriage that people tend to enjoy. In some states, both parties of the couple now have a say when it comes to the other person. If one of them gets into an accident and is disabled, the other party can be at the hospital as a family member, but more importantly, they can act in favor of the patient. However, your spouse’s family could get in the way so it is important to have paperwork that backs up that you are married.

The best way to figure out exactly what you can do with a common-law marriage is to contact a lawyer that specializes in it. By working with the lawyer, he/she can explain exactly what rights you have as a married couple and what rights you don’t have. He’ll explain what you can do to make it legal without going through an actual wedding procedure and, more importantly, explain the way of getting out of it.

Most states that allow common law marriage recognize it as a marriage. Therefore, it is very easy to get into one, but very difficult to get out of one. To get out, most states require a formal divorce process. This means going to court and having to go through the extensive work of divorcing. In the end, though, a common-law marriage provides a couple who has been living together for so many years the opportunity to be given married rights without having to legally be married.

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