Top Misconception About Common Law Marriage

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedJul 8, 2020
1 minute read

Think you know what actually constitutes a common law marriage? Chances are, you don’t.

Family law attorney Allison Sutton says common law marriage is more complex than you think.

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Hi, Allison Sutton again, family law attorney with Robinson and Henry. I wanted to talk about common law marriage at this point.

The Common Law Marriage Misconception

A lot of people think that if you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a certain period of time that you are married by default per the common law. That’s not quite how it works.

What Actually Creates a Common Law Marriage

Come to an Agreement

There has to be an agreement between the parties. So maybe one day over the cereal bowls at breakfast you say, “Hey, you know what? “I want to be married from this day forward.”

The other party says, “Okay, that’s great. “Let’s be married from this day forward.”

So they have an agreement. Both of them are thinking, “Yeah, we’re married now, “because we said so.”

Act Like Spouses 

If they hold themselves out as a married couple to the community, if they do things like file their taxes jointly, and things like that, then you can actually create a common law marriage.

But it’s not just a matter of how much time you spend in a relationship, or if you’ve lived together for however long.

You can’t acquire a spouse by adverse possession. So there has to be an agreement between the parties and holding out to the community.

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