Family Law Insights

Ending a Common Law Marriage

Posted on: June 5th, 2013

Although no legally recognized marriage ceremony is performed or civil marriage contract established, a common law marriage is legally binding in some states such as Alabama, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Texas, and in some rare instances, Georgia as well. While each state’s laws vary, generally speaking to be considered a common law marriage a man and woman must reside together in a state that recognizes common law marriage for a significant period of time. The couple must hold themselves out as a married couple meaning the couple uses the same last name, refer to each other as “my husband” or “my wife,” or file joint tax returns. Lastly, the couple must intend to marry as legally contracted on the basis of the state’s rules and regulations.

If created before January 1, 1997 the state of Georgia will recognize a common law marriage. Georgia no longer has a common law marriage and there are no circumstances that will allow a couple to form a common law marriage regardless of how long the couple have lived or will live with each other. However, Georgia may recognize common law marriages that occurred in other states.

The existence of a common law marriage requires the couple to proceed with a formal divorce to end the relationship. If you are ending a relationship considered to be a common law marriage we advise you to speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys to see what options are available for you. We look forward to hearing from you!

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John DiNatale joined Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC as Of Counsel in January 2018. His practice focuses on family law with expertise in divorce, child support, child custody, modifications, contempt, and prenup…
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