You may have heard of common law marriage, but there is a good chance that most of what you’ve heard is not factual. Indeed, just because you are with your significant other for a certain number of years, it doesn’t mean that you are automatically “husband” and “wife.” Common law marriage dates all the way back to England in the Middle Ages. During this time, it took longer than a few days – often on treacherous roads – for couples to visit a church to get married, so priests simply deemed them married by “common law.” These days, though, only remnants of this law remains. Here are some common myths about common law marriage.
One of the most common myths is that living together with your significant other automatically makes you common law married. Only part of this is true. Usually, you must take extra measures to assume common law marriage, like changing last names, filing tax returns and changing your billing addresses to one single address. The correct legal term for this is called “holding out” and the longer a couple assumes this status, the easier it will be to declare a common law marriage.
Another myth is that common law marriages have some of the same legal implications as real marriages, especially when it comes to division of property after a divorce. However, in a common law marriage, the laws regarding property do not apply. Basically, if a common law couple splits up, one partner is not entitled to a percentage of the other partner’s property. In a legal marriage – a marriage recognized under the laws of the state – separation of property does apply. If you are looking to dissolve a common law marriage, you may need the services of a law firm, like Campo Blumenfeld Attorneys at Law, to separate property, because in most cases, you are not legally entitled.
Next, some common law married couples believe that they have to proceed with adoption papers to secure the right to be called the legal parents of a child they have together. The truth, however, is that if a common law married couple has a child together, the child doesn’t need to be adopted and is automatically deemed their child under their law, especially if it is stated on a birth certificate. In fact, the responsibilities of two parents of a child hold sway over legally married couples and non-married couples alike.
Lastly, many people believe that you don’t need a traditional and legal divorce if you are common law married. However, some of the legal binding obligations of a legal marriage apply to a common law marriage. Oftentimes, seeking a divorce from common law marriage is much easier, but it can still be a sticky situation. While a judge will dissolve a common law marriage much more quickly, it can still get ugly, especially if the couple is not amicable in the break up. So, make sure that you are ready before you commit to a common-law marriage.