What is Common Law Marriage?
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Common Law Marriage in Arizona
Most people believe that if you live or co-habitate with a person for 7 years, you are as good as married or at least in the eyes of the state, you are married. You may have not convinced your mother who wants you to have a ceremony and make it “official,” that you are married but in some states (as long as you meet the requirements) you are hitched through a common law marriage. Common law marriages do NOT apply to every state.
Here is the situation in Arizona regarding Common Law Marriage:
Arizona does not recognize common law marriage generally speaking. The Constitution of the United States requires that states give “full faith and credit” to court orders from other states, which could include a common law marriage. Practically speaking, a couple that meets the criteria to be common law married in another state will not be afforded the option of filing a traditional dissolution if and when the relationship ends in Arizona.
Arizona does not recognize common-law marriages created within the state. A.R.S. § 25-111. However, Arizona does not exactly recognize common-law marriages that are validly contracted in other jurisdictions either. A.R.S. § 25-112. Thus, validity may depend on compliance with the requirements of the place where the relationship was established. Further, while Arizona does not recognize common-law marriage, parties who have resided together may have remedies in contract law to receive reimbursement for property purchased together and similar claims. Confused? We don’t blame you. Therefore, you should, contact an experienced Avondale Family Law Attorney with additional questions regarding marriages of common law in AZ.
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Arizona Common Law Guidelines
Each state does have specific “guidelines” and conditions as to the relationships that constitute common law. If a couple meets the criteria according to the law, and lives in a state that recognizes common law is an actual marriage, that couple is legally married in every way. Here’s what makes this interesting: a couple is legally married under this law, even if they do not hold a marriage license. A couple can use the same last name, call each other Mr. and Mrs. / husband and wife, and file joint tax returns.
Additionally, couples “married” by common law basically live by the same “rules” as a couple married in the traditional manner. Therefore, even though there was never a wedding ceremony or marriage license, a couple bound by common law that wants to split must still get a divorce.
This marriage in a common law situation actually is known as an “informal marriage” or a “marriage by habit” and is a contractual joining of a couple. Common-law is often confused with “domestic partnership” or other long-term relationships. Therefore, where a couple cohabitates for many years. Just because a couple live together and “act” like they are married, unless they have the official contract / union by common law in their state, they are just 2 people living together for a really, really long time.
Common Law Marriage in Arizona
Thus, if you do not live in a state with common law marriage, it doesn’t matter how many years you live with your partner. You may have a personal commitment to one another, love each other unequivocally, yet there is nothing legally binding. Some couples decide they do not want to get married, but instead live together like they were married — sharing bills, combining assets, sharing accounts, buying a home, building equity.
Additionally, among the common “marriage myths” is the oft-heard: “Well, if you live with someone seven years, then you are legally married.” This might be true in some states, but not in Arizona.
What happens if the couple splits?
If their relationship was never recognized by their state as a common-law relationship/marriage, they are really back to boyfriend-girlfriend-we-might-as-well-have-only-been-dating-two-weeks stage of their relationship. It is difficult to end a long-term relationship when the break-up makes way for disputes about the division of property.
A common law partnership can only exist if you are a couple who lives together for a required/significant length of time in a state that recognizes these marriages. Therefore, if you hold yourself to the standard of a married couple in your community or employment, a court may view your situation as one that may be deemed a marriage by common law.
I Have Been with my Partner for 7 Years, Am I Married Now?
So you’ve been with your partner for a long time. It’s time to start considering yourselves common-law married, a sort of “marriage-like” status that triggers when you’ve lived together for seven years. Right?
Nope. Don’t believe everything you hear. That’s all bogus.
For one, common-law marriage, which traces its roots to old English law, isn’t a nationwide thing. It exists in only a small number of states. Therefore, unless you live in one of those states, getting hitched will involve an official “I do” ceremony.
Also, that common-law kicks in after partners live together for a certain period of time? That’s a flat-out myth.
Finding yourself in a “gray” area regarding Common Law?
Seek the advice of an experienced Arizona family law lawyer. Many offer FREE CONSULTATIONS and can give you advice, point you in the right direction, or help you resolve any family law or common law situations that you may have.
Published By Arizona Family Law Attorney:
My Arizona Lawyers – Candace Kallen