Myths For Common Law Marriages Busted

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsMany of you would be well acquainted with the concept of common law marriages. However, for the individuals who are not so well versed in legal jargon, common law marriage is legal framework which stipulates that a couple will be considered as husband and wife in certain circumstances even if they do not get their wedding legally registered by the court of law. In other words, a couple that lives together for a specific number of years without being legally married, and present themselves as a wedded couple, will be considered as common law married across certain jurisdictions. Now coming to the actual point of whether or not such a law practice is recognized by the state of California. The answer is no. Here is a list of few popular myths regarding common law marriages in California.

Myth #1:  All the 50 states of America recognize the common law marriage

The truth is that several states such as California, Rhode Island, Washington DC and Colorado do not acknowledge the practice as legal.

Myth #2:  There is no way of getting common law marriage recognized within the state of California

The fact is that, if a couple that was living in another state that acknowledges the common law marriage, shifts to California and applies for a divorce, the court of law will accept the couple as married. 

Myth #3:  If a couple has lived together for seven years, they be considered common law married

The fact here is that there is no minimum time period which defines a couple’s eligibility for being common law married. Irrespective of whether a couple has been cohabitating for one year or twenty, the court of law requires them to qualify for very specific criteria to even consider it applicable for common law marriage. 

Myth #4:  Two individuals will be considered married if they claim it

As aforementioned, a court of law will not consider two individuals married merely on the fact that they say that they are married. There are several criteria which are taken into account while recognizing a couple as common law married. The couple should be a resident of the state where the practice is recognized. In addition to this, one of the partners has to display their intent to marry and recognize the other partner as their spouse by taking the latter’s surname. 

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation