What Is a Common Law Marriage?
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What Is a Common Law Marriage?

| Jun 21, 2021 | Firm News |

Common law marriages do not require any license or formal ceremony. Instead, they depend on how the couple view the relationship and how they have acted. Typically, it arises in situations where two partners have been living together for some time and have been portraying themselves as married to friends, family, and the community. In places where common law marriages are recognized, both partners usually receive similar benefits to that of a formal marriage.

Common law marriages were legal in Ohio up until 1991. However, under statutory law, Ohio no longer recognizes this form of marriage for any relationship entered into after October 10, 1991. That means that, in modern day, there is only one way to become legally married here in Ohio: obtaining a marriage license from your local probate court.

Common law marriages that came into existence before this date remain valid, but they must meet certain requirements in order to qualify. Most importantly, the relationship can’t have ended through death, divorce, dissolution of marriage, annulment, or through any other judicial proceeding. Individuals must also prove that they are cohabitating, or living together, and that the reputation of their marriage exists. In other words, they must show that themselves and others view their relationship as one that is equal to a marriage. The reputation of marriage is often the hardest factor to prove.

Despite Ohio’s shift away from recognizing common law marriages, this form of a legal relationship is still recognized as a legitimate marriage in some states. In fact, Ohio will still recognize common law marriages in other states or countries where they are permitted.

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If you are trying to figure out your marital rights under a possible common law marriage, it’s recommended that you get an experienced attorney to help prove the existence of such a relationship. Marital status can also affect several other areas of the law, including property rights, debt obligations, child custody, and medical rights. Contact us for a consultation regarding your situation today.

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