Contrary to popular belief, common law marriage has been around since the late 1800s. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding common-law marriages. Also, can you divorce your partner if you are in a common-law marriage? For these and more, you can consult divorce lawyers in your area.

All about common-law marriages 

For starters, a common-law marriage refers to long-time couples living together and consider themselves “married”. The catch? They aren’t technically married – no civil or church wedding ceremony or even a marriage license that will seal their so-called “marriage”.

Some states recognize the legality of common-law marriage. This includes Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina, and Utah among a few. Other states also recognize common-law marriage albeit with certain restrictions. This includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Georgia among a few.

Common-law marriage does not happen out of neglect. Some people opt to delay their marriage to save up for a dream wedding. Common-law marriage also happens if you or your current partner recently went through a divorce (or in the process of it) and are living together for quite some time.

Of course, it is still a better idea to “seal the deal”. Meaning, couples should make their union legal and get married. Family lawyers can also help couples who have concerns regarding their common-law marriage and their respective action steps.

Common myths about common-law marriages 

Common-law marriages are… well, commonly accepted nowadays. As mentioned, some states recognize common-law marriages and some do not. You might not need divorce lawyers in case both of you decide to part ways later on.

However, you might also have a hard time settling common divorce issues like child custody and spousal support. Child support lawyers and spousal support lawyers can help you with those concerns, especially during a divorce.

However, there are also these common misconceptions regarding common-law marriage. Here are some of these common myths and the truth behind them.

Just because you live together doesn’t mean you are already considered married by common law. 

Aside from cohabitating for several years, common-law couples should also act as real husband and wife. Meaning, they can share assets and properties, and file joint tax returns, to name a few. It depends on the couple’s agreement.

In case of separation, the common-law couple can divide their properties and assets in half. 

This is only granted among legally-married couples in the event of divorce. In such cases, the one named in the property or asset has the sole right to it. He or she has the right to do whatever he or she wants without the consent of the other person. If you are in a common-law marriage and planning to buy a property, you can sign a co-ownership agreement.

If one of the spouses becomes disabled or die, all properties and assets will automatically be transferred to the other spouse. 

Well, the surviving spouse should make all efforts to prove his/her eligibility to the property/assets left behind. This can be a tough battle if the deceased spouse’s family is also claiming the properties and assets.

You cannot divorce under common-law marriage. 

The truth is that you may have to hire a divorce lawyer to end the so-called “marriage”. Common-law marriage is pretty much the same as getting married legally. It’s easy to get into it but can take some time and money to get out of it.

Are you “married” by common law?

Here are some things to consider to determine if you are married under common law.

  • Are you living together for some time now?
  • Do your friends and family consider you as husband and wife?
  • Do you have children, properties, and assets together?
  • Is your child(ren) carry the husband’s surname?
  • Are you or your spouse using the other’s surname?
  • Did you purchase properties or assets under both names?
  • Do you have joint tax returns and bank accounts?

If your answer to these questions is yes, then it is most likely that you and your partner are in a common marriage. However, only a judge can confirm if you are indeed married by common law.

Next step 

If you see yourself with your current partner, in the long run, it is a good idea to get married. It should not matter whether you get wed in a simple ceremony or through civil marriage. You can have your dream wedding if you want in the future. At the end of the day, you can benefit a lot in all aspects of you are legally married. For your family-related concerns, make sure to consult only the best family lawyers in Fairfax VA.