When a couple makes the decision to pursue a common-law marriage, it is important to become familiar with the laws, procedures and benefits that are associated with the relationship in your state.
Since common-law marriages are a matter of state law, the requirements for a common-law marriage to be valid differs between the states. In light of this, common-law marriages have three basic features. This is important as when a common-law marriage is challenged, the following elements are important for proving that it exists. Make note of the following requirements for common law marriages:
1. A current agreement to be married
This involves both parties being able to demonstrate that they have an agreement to be married. This may be accomplished by circumstantial evidence, such as proving that the partners have cohabitated and held themselves out to the public as being married. However, neither cohabitation nor a public holding out constitutes sufficient proof to establish the formation of a common-law marriage, either by themselves or taken together. Ultimately, the parties must prove that there is an agreement to get married.
The parties must actually live together in order to support a claim of common-law marriage. If a party also maintains a separate home, whether that will nullify a common-law marriage is a question of fact, thus depending upon the circumstances.
3. Public representations of marriage
This means that when it comes to the public, the couple holds themselves out as being married. In others words, they are expected to and act like a married couple. For instance, a married couple is expected to tell people that they are married. It is also important to engage other activities as filing joint tax returns and declaring their marriage on other documents, such as applications, leases, and birth certificates.