WHAT IS A COMMON LAW MARRIAGE?
A Common Law Marriage simply means that the marriage was established without benefit of a license and ceremony.
HOW ARE COMMON LAW MARRIAGES ESTABLISHED?
Although the definition may vary from state to state, the common features of a common law marriage are:
- Cohabitation – the parties lived together.
- Consent – the parties intended to hold themselves out as husband and wife.
- Holding out- the parties "held themselves out" to the world as husband and wife (i.e. The parties spoke of each other as "my husband" or "my wife").
- Neither party was married to someone else.
DO WE HAVE TO LIVE TOGETHER FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME TO BE "COMMON LAW MARRIED"?
In most states that recognize common law marriages, there are no time requirements for living together.
In most states that recognize common law marriages, there are no time requirements for living together. The controlling issue is not time together, but the intentions of the parties.
ARE COMMON LAW MARRIAGES LEGAL IN GEORGIA?
If the common law marriage was established in Georgia before January 1, 1997 or was legally established in a state that still recognizes common law marriages then it is a legal marriage. (O.C.G.A. §19-3-1.1)
DO OTHER STATES RECOGNIZE COMMON LAW MARRIAGES?
Yes, there are a few states that still recognize common law marriages. As of January 1, 2000, those states are: Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, District of Columbia and New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only).
Each state has varied requirements for proving the establishment of a common law marriage. You must consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in a particular state if you feel that you have established a common law marriage in one of the above listed states.
IF I AM "COMMON LAW MARRIED", MUST I OBTAIN A DIVORCE?
Yes, once a valid common law marriage is established, it may only be ended by decree of court.
SOURCE: Family Law Information Center, Superior Court of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit