In your mind, is common law marriage 100% equal to "regular" marriage?

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Posted 12/6/2012 by Captain K in NSBR Board
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Captain K
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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:07:00 PM
Just a topic I was thinking on. I don't think our state has common law marriage, and I think there are a lot of states that don't. It seems to be more common in Canada.

I don't know anyone IRL that is "common law married." I don't even fully understand it, to be honest - do you have to file for separation to split up? Do you get all the legal rights?

Anyway, in your mind, is common law marriage the exact same thing as regular marriage?

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:11:36 PM
Yes. A couple that creates a life together for an extended period of time is just as married as I am and they saved the money I spent on wedding.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:12:32 PM
If I give it much thought at all, which I usually haven't, I'm going with "no."

If only because in "regular" marriage people made a somewhat conscious decision to go through some small effort to be married. Common law, if I understand it correctly, just sort of happens by default? So if I think of it in terms of "equality" I'm thinking the latter was not quite as "equally" committed to wanting to be "officially married" as the couple who chose a date and bought a license.

Other than that it's all good.

I'm willing to stand corrected and/or change my opinion if fascinating common law marriage facts should arise in this thread.




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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:13:27 PM
no


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:14:59 PM
No


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:15:30 PM
Im Canadian; I'm common-law; and we have been married for almost 25 years. I consider myself more married than all our friends that have been married and divorced multiple times in the same 25 years.

It did not happen by default. We consciously decided to be together; for better for worse; etc etc.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:19:14 PM
Possibly 100% spiritually, emotionally to "regular" marriage. For all I know, for some couples it could be more than a regular marriage.

But legally not really is it?

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:20:44 PM

Anyway, in your mind, is common law marriage the exact same thing as regular marriage?


No.

asr70
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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:21:06 PM

If only because in "regular" marriage people made a somewhat conscious decision to go through some small effort to be married. Common law, if I understand it correctly, just sort of happens by default?
I know of several couples who have made a conscious decision not to get married, so it isn't assigned by default in their case.




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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:35:11 PM
Imo the answer would be yes. I believe many (if not most or all) recognize them as well. (I could be wrong about this) If a couple is that committed to one another what does it truly matter if they stand in front of an official.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:39:38 PM
I lived with my husband for nine years before marrying and we've now been married for six. Florida doesn't have common law marriage and I didn't WANT to be married during the time I was living with him. We were young, not planning to have children, and just not interested in having the moniker. When that changed, we got married.

So my answer would be no.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:39:39 PM
Honestly, no. There's just something about being willing to stand up in public and make a commitment to each other.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:42:30 PM
this is interesting to me because of my parents. they were married for 12 years, got divorced. but my parents still live together 20 years later, my mother is fully responsible for my father, she supports him, etc they are in essence married. if Missouri still had common law marriages I'm sure they would qualify. it was always weird to me growing up that even though my parents were divorced, they still lived together.

but to answer your question, no. my mother will unequivocally state that she is NOT married, though my dad still calls her his wife.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:44:38 PM
There's just something about being willing to stand up in public and make a commitment to each other. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As far as I know, in the states that accept common law marriage, this public declaration is they key to determining if/when a clm happened.
I know in Oklahoma at one time just presenting yourself to two people (aka witnesses) was enough to establish a marriage.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:47:28 PM
I believe in Alberta common-law is equal to marriage legally after 6 months. That is how I see it.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:50:54 PM
No. I view it as half-ass, probably based on the people I have known who have chosen this route. Usually, it involves one partner settling.

If it were really the same, there would be no special designation.






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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:52:17 PM
No.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:52:27 PM
In states where it's recognized, it's considered legally the same. You have to actually get a divorce from a bonafide common law marriage here in Texas.
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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:53:06 PM
Legally it is...kind of.

My cousin was pissed when she had to divorce her "common law husband." She didn't know the laws that well and had made a conscious decision NOT to marry this guy. She thought they "broke up" and she was still saddled with all of his stuff until she went through the divorce process.

I think that if you choose not to go into a contract with your significant other, that is your decision. If you want the legality of it, then you go to courthouse and sign some paper.

I know there is the reverse situation for some of those in non-common law states. Significant others have been together for 10 years, have children together... but if one wants to up and leave, there are no legal protection for the one left behind.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:54:30 PM
In my mind I don't really care about the status of anyone's marriage but my own. They can consider them selves, common-law, not married but committed, or just roommates. Whatever level of commitment is good for them is good for me.

Now, having said that, I really think couples should do whatever is necessary to make the least amount of paperwork possible for any children that come out of those unions. If that means going ahead and getting the piece of paper that says they are married,so there is less trouble with birth certificates or heaven forbid, custody issues, then I think they should make it a priority.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:02:34 PM
I know the legalities of it vary from place to place, but in my mind, yes, they are equal. The two people involved have made a commitment to each other that is just as binding and important to them as any made with a piece of paper attached. That is the part that counts, not whether or not some clerk at City Hall rubber stamped a form.







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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:03:07 PM
Yes. I don't see it as a whole lot different.

There are very few States where common law marriage is recognized, Alabama happens to be one of them....and if you had a common law marriage in Alabama, then other States will recognize it.

In Alabama you must do 3 things to have your common law marriage recognized as legal.

You must not be married to someone else. You must intend to be married (as in you must intend to treat this like a 'real' marriage)) and you must hold yourselves out to family, friends and the community, as a married couple. If you have done those things, you are also legally required to get a divorce just like any other married couple....before you can either legally marry someone else, or enter into another common law marriage.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:03:30 PM
From growing up, yep! In Ohio in the 1960s , same-same.

If you presented yourselves as a couple for a prolonged time. Live at the same address, share property, etc.

Neighbors of my parents were a common law marriage. All the kids knew them as Mr. & Mrs. "E"


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:03:54 PM
Not in my mind. There's something about getting a marriage license and taking vows in front of witnesses that makes a "regular" marriage seem more conscious and deliberate to me. That's not to say that people in a common law marriage can't be every bit as committed to each other as two people who went through the ceremony, but something that happened through deliberate action just seems more real to me than something that happened through the passage of time.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:09:15 PM
In general no.

A ceremony involves you making a commitment in public and in front of family and friends. Theoretically, the people who witness your ceremony are supposed to actively support the marriage and help a couple when they hit hard times.

That is in general. There are no doubt exceptions in particular marriages!


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:11:30 PM
In my mind, it is not the same. I know some will say that it is just a piece of paper but it is more than that. It is a legal document and can protect you both in relation to medical needs, financial needs, etc


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myshelly
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:13:37 PM
Yes, I believe they are absolutely equal.

Laws vary by state.

In my state the law specifically states CL marriages are the same as ceremonial marriages.

ALL LEGAL RIGHTS ARE THE SAME. Absolutely identical from day one.

In my state, yes you do have to go through the courts/legal process to get a divorce for a Cal marriage.





myshelly
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:20:35 PM

If only because in "regular" marriage people made a somewhat conscious decision to go through some small effort to be married. Common law, if I understand it correctly, just sort of happens by default?



No.

The laws vary by state. I don't know where you are.

In my state, and in many others, INTENT to be married is required for CL marriage. It can't just happen by default.


In my mind, it is not the same. I know some will say that it is just a piece of paper but it is more than that. It is a legal document and can protect you both in relation to medical needs, financial needs, etc




This argument makes no sense. The rights associated with CL marriage are identical to the rights granted to you by that piece of paper. *Legally* they are the same.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:25:14 PM
No.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:25:24 PM

That's not to say that people in a common law marriage can't be every bit as committed to each other as two people who went through the ceremony, but something that happened through deliberate action just seems more real to me than something that happened through the passage of time.


Common law marriage, in the legal sense, is very much a deliberate action. Anything else is just shacking up.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:26:43 PM

Anyway, in your mind, is common law marriage the exact same thing as regular marriage?


For me, no.

I lived with someone for 8 yrs and we had a child together. When we split up we didn't have to get a divorce. He was supposed to pay child support but didn't. We didn't have to go to court to separate, we just went our separate ways.

For me it was not the same as going to courte and getting a divorce after being married.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:28:28 PM
To me, I think CL marriage is more valid than ceremonial.

CL couples make all of the commitment with none of the trappings of the wedding.

I don't believe in ceremonies in general, and I have a real problem with weddings in particular.

I believe all legal marriages should be common law marriages and weddings/ceremonies should be cometely separate from legal considerations.



myshelly
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:30:10 PM

I lived with someone for 8 yrs and we had a child together. When we split up we didn't have to get a divorce. He was supposed to pay child support but didn't. We didn't have to go to court to separate, we just went our separate ways.


In my state you did not meet the requirements for CL marriage.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:31:03 PM

A ceremony involves you making a commitment in public and in front of family and friends.


What about all the couples who get married at City Hall by a stranger, with no family or friends in attendance?

Ceremonies and witnesses do not make a marriage. The commitment of two people to each other make a marriage, and only that.







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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:32:07 PM
My first thought is No. You don't have to have the big wedding to be married. To me the piece of paper means something. Like we actually made the commitment and here it is in writing. we both did it intentionally.



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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:33:29 PM
No. Not at all. If you marry someone you really need to go get a license and say it in front of witnesses.

It just isn't legally smart to confuse those two things.

If two people are in love and want to commit to each other then do it on paper.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:38:46 PM

No. Not at all. If you marry someone you really need to go get a license and say it in front of witnesses.

It just isn't legally smart to confuse those two things.

If two people are in love and want to commit to each other then do it on paper.


I'm a family law attorney and this just isn't true.

Legally they are EXACTLY THE SAME.

It is my experience, both on this thread and IRL, that people who say no to this question simply don't understand the law.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:50:48 PM

It is my experience, both on this thread and IRL, that people who say no to this question simply don't understand the law.



The question was in our mind, I answered based on how I felt about my relationship, not what the law is.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:52:13 PM
NOPE!


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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:59:52 PM
I think it depends on the couple. I can think of one couple who is more devoted to each other than most married couples I know. They've been together for years and have truly built a life together.

Then I think of most of the other couples I know where one of the people isn't as committed. I think the first scenario seems to be in the minority of the people I've met. Then again I know many married couples that I honestly wonder how they manage to stay together.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:01:32 PM
yes, legally it's the same. At least to me.






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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:02:21 PM
There's no common law in MA, but in states where there is, I'd say yes.


If two people are in love and want to commit to each other then do it on paper.


Eh, been there, done that and it didn't work. I've been with my significant other for nearly fourteen years and we're in love and committed to each other, and neither of us feels the need to get a paper to make it legal. Once in awhile, we think about getting married--mainly so that we could have a big party for our friends. We own stuff together, have joint and separate bank accounts, I consider his daughter my stepdaughter, etc. We're quite happy with the way things are and have no immediate plans to change it. And while he's not my husband legally, we live our lives as if we WERE married, with the same considerations for our future, etc. Having been married before (for 13 years) I don't feel any different in this relationship than I did in that (except happier of course )


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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:02:27 PM
Interesting thing, Ohio got rid of CLM in 1991, and they are still legal in Alabama.

Who knew?


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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:02:53 PM
I have been with my boyfriend for almost 16 years and we both consider our relationship a marriage...even though our state does not recognize common law. Someday we'll get married I'm sure, but that will be just a formality.

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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:03:23 PM
Well, if state law provides for "common law" marriage, then yes, because essentially the longevity of the relationship makes it legally the same as being married. If we're just talking about two people living together for whatever length of time, no, I don't equate that with marriage.


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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:07:59 PM

STATES THAT RECOGNIZE COMMON LAW MARRIAGE:
Only a few states recognize common law marriages:
Alabama
Colorado
Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
Iowa
Kansas
Montana
New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Oklahoma's laws and court decisions may be in conflict about whether common law marriages formed in that state after 11/1/98 will be recognized.)
Pennsylvania (if created before 1/1/05)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Texas
Utah
Washington, D.C.
IF YOU LIVE IN A STATE THAT DOES RECOGNIZE COMMON LAW MARRIAGE: If you live in one of the above states and you "hold yourself out to be married" (by telling the community you are married, calling each other husband and wife, using the same last name, filing joint income tax returns, etc.), you can have a common law marriage (for more information on the specific requirements of each state, see next page). Common law marriage makes you a legally married couple in every way, even though you never obtained a marriage license. If you choose to end your relationship, you must get a divorce, even though you never had a wedding. Legally, common law married couples must play by all the same rules as "regular" married couples. If you live in one of the common law states and don't want your relationship to become a common law marriage, you must be clear that it is your intention not to marry. The attorneys who wrote Living Together (additional information below) recommend an agreement in writing that both partners sign and date: "Jane Smith and John Doe agree as follows: That they've been and plan to continue living together as two free, independent beings and that neither has ever intended to enter into any form of marriage, common law or otherwise."

Found this, but I don't know how old it is. I know I live in TN, because AL is a common law state. There is more data per state, on the second page, but I didn't copy it.
Common law


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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:08:08 PM
Then how come I see in many cases when someone dies that the SO has no say in burial, end of life decisions, why so many questions about inheritance that sort of thing? Honest question no snark intended..


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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:11:51 PM
No


The law concerning this depends on jurisdiction. In some places they are the same, in some places there is no recognition of common law marriage.




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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:12:42 PM

Then how come I see in many cases when someone dies that the SO has no say in burial, end of life decisions, why so many questions about inheritance that sort of thing? Honest question no snark intended..



Because those people DIDN'T have a CL marriage. If you have a CL marriage then you are married, period, with all of the same medical and financial rights and responsibilities.





The question was in our mind, I answered based on how I felt about my relationship, not what the law is.


If you don't know what the law is then you don't know what a common law marriage is. If you don't know what it is then how can you have an opinion on it?



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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:22:55 PM
I don't get it the whole idea of common law marriage, honestly. If you want to get married, get married. A couple does not have to have a wedding or spend much of anything in order to get legally married. If you choose not to get married, I presume you don't want to be married for any number of totally legitimate reasons.

I don't think a longterm couple who is not married is in some kind of inferior relationship, but it is different from marriage - a difference that the couple chooses. I don't understand why the government decides you're "common law married" if marriage is not what you affirmatively chose, for whatever reason.

ETA: I wrote my post before reading other posts. My state is not a common law state, so I am not particularly familiar with the requirements. I did not know the requirements about the declaring intent to be married, etc.. I thought it was strictly a function of the duration of the relationship. I guess I don't understand why you'd choose a common law marriage over an official marriage license (it seems like it would be easier, paperwork-wise, to be able to produce a marriage license - like how would I prove my husband is qualified to be on my health insurance without a marriage license?). But if that's what people want, OK. I do understand that in the eyes of the law, common law spouses have the same rights as spouses who are "officially" married.
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