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What is Common Law Marriage?

What is Common Law Marriage? Attorney Grand Rapids, MI

Just because you didn’t have a big church ceremony, doesn’t mean you’re not married to your partner in the eyes of the law.

If you live with your partner, commingle finances, and act like a married couple in public, the court could rule that you have a common law marriage.

Fortunately, our divorce attorney is here to help if you need to dissolve this union.

While most people assume it’s the number of years you live with someone that determines a common law marriage, it’s actually the extent you and your partner act like a married couple. Continue reading to get the facts on common law marriage, and why you should hire a divorce attorney when you need to dissolve one. To learn more about the divorce process, don’t hesitate to call.

Common Law Marriage?

No Time Requirement

It’s a misconception that a couple has to live together for 7 years before they’re considered to be in a common law marriage. Just because you live with someone doesn’t automatically make them your common law wife or husband. You and the other person must first agree to be a married couple and act like one in public.

Behavior Indicates Common Law Marriage

During your free initial consultation with our divorce attorney, he’ll ask questions to determine whether you’re in a common law marriage. Many of these questions have to do with how you and your partner have conducted yourselves in public. For example, you have a common law marriage if you and your partner agreed to be married and filed joint tax returns as spouses.

Our divorce lawyer asks these questions to determine a common law marriage:

  • Are you living together?
  • Did you ever introduce your partner as a husband or wife?
  • Did the woman take the man’s last name?
  • Do you use the “married” name for utilities?
  • Do you list the other person as your spouse (or vice versa) for insurance purposes?
  • Do you file joint tax returns as spouses?
  • Is property titled in both names?

How to Dissolve a Common Law Marriage

While it’s easy to enter a common law marriage, you’ll need the help of an experienced divorce attorney to get out of one. Fortunately, our divorce lawyer can help you through the process of separating from your partner, starting with knowing how to file for divorce. You’ll have to go through the divorce process just like you would if you were married in an official ceremony.

If the other side is falsely claiming you were in a common law marriage, we can help you gather evidence (like previous tax returns or utility bills) to prove otherwise. The court will make the final decision on your marital status based on the extent you and your partner behaved like a married couple.

If the court rules you have a common law marriage, our divorce attorney will help you dissolve the union so you can move on with your life. For example, if you have a workable relationship with your partner, you may benefit from divorce mediation or arbitration.

Our divorce attorney can help you dissolve a common law marriage so you can move on with the rest of your life. To request your free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of Sean Patrick Cox in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. We look forward to hearing from you.