How to Dispute Common Law Marriages

Some states allow marriages to happen without a formal ceremony or even any paperwork. This is called a “common law marriage,” and is recognized in a handful of states.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

If you and your significant other live together for a certain period of time, think of yourselves as married to each other, and tell others that you are, in fact, married, then you may have achieved a common law marriage. Common law marriages do not require anything more than an extended cohabitation period, an intent to get married, and holding yourself out as married. However, only a few states recognize common law marriage. Currently, these are:

  • Alabama,
  • Colorado,
  • District of Columbia,
  • Iowa,
  • Kansas,
  • Montana,
  • Oklahoma,
  • Rhode Island,
  • South Carolina,
  • Texas, and
  • Utah.

Unfortunately, each state has its own specific requirements for a common law marriage to be formed in their state.

New York Recognizes Out of State Common Law Marriages

Even though New York is not on the list of states that allow for common law marriages, our state does recognize common law marriages that happen in states that do allow them. Therefore, if you and your significant other satisfied the requirements for a common law marriage in, say, Colorado, and then moved to New York, then you would still be considered married under common law in New York.

Because neighboring Pennsylvania once allowed for common law marriages, it is not uncommon for new residents of New York to be together under a common law marriage.

How to Dispute a Common Law Marriage

Dissolving a common law marriage would require a divorce, so many people elect to dispute that they were ever married, in the first place.

How to best dispute a common law marriage will depend on the circumstances you are facing and what state you were allegedly married in. The way to dispute a common law marriage is to claim that the requirements for the marriage were not met in the state you had been living in, before you moved to New York. You can show that the state's cohabitation period was not satisfied, that neither you nor your alleged spouse held each other out as being married, or you can focus on claiming that there was never an intent to marry.

The Bombardo Law Office Can Help

Each of these arguments can be very fact intensive, so having a family law attorney at the Bombardo Law Office can help get you what you want. Contact or call us today at (315)488-5544 for a consultation on your case.

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