In many states, a couple who have not gone through a marriage ceremony can receive the same legal status as a couple who have been formally married. This status is called a “common law marriage.” In a ceremonial marriage, the couple will have filed for a marriage certificate, often planned a wedding or another ceremony performed by an authorized “officiator” of the ceremony, and are legally married after all of the necessary paperwork is filed. In a common law marriage, the couple may be considered legally married after certain criteria are met.
Common Law Marriage criteria
In most states, to be considered a common law marriage, a couple must meet 3 or more criteria. This includes:
- Cohabitation or living with each other for a minimum period. This time frame varies by state.
- Publically being acknowledged as husband and wife. Examples are introducing you as husband and wife, filing joint tax returns, etc.
- Consent to the marriage
- Be eligible to be legally married. You cannot already be married for example.
Once these criteria are met, the law will recognize your relationship as a legal marriage, and you may be eligible for all of the rights and protections that a ceremonial marriage provide. On the other side, it also requires the same process to end the relationship as a formal union, such as a divorce or death. In the event of a divorce, you will need to go through the same process as a ceremonially married couple will, which includes property and asset division, child custody and support issues, etc.
New York and Common Law Marriages
The state of New York does not recognize common law marriages. So, if you had a relationship that met all of the above criteria while you were living in New York, you do not need to worry about disputing your relationship status. However, if you were living in a state that DOES recognize common law marriage and were considered legally married before moving to New York, then New York will recognize your common law marriage as legally binding according to the criteria set forth by the previous state.
How to Dispute a Common Law Marriage
Now that we have discovered what must be in place before a relationship is considered a common law marriage and whether or not it will be recognized as such we can determine how to move forward with your dispute over the legal status of your relationship.
One example of a valid conflict of your relationship status is if you lived with your partner but never introduced yourself as husband and wife and were not recognized in public as such. You will need to prove that you did not meet all of the criteria for a common law marriage from the state that recognizes it. The longer you were together, the more difficult it may be to prove you were not living as husband and wife. Especially if you have children that are a product of your relationship.
New York family Law Attorneys
If you are in need of a divorce and family law attorney, you need to contact the offices of Bombardo Law. We specialize in family and divorce cases and are committed to our clients. Call us at 315-488-5544 or fill out our online contact form and someone from our offices will set up your consultation.