Although people often use the term incorrectly, to describe a couple who only lives together, common law marriage is a legal term describing a couple who have presented themselves as married to others, and whose relationship is organized like a marriage (and do, in most cases, actually live together).
The major difference between a common law marriage and a formal, or statutory, marriage is that the common law marriage is not formalized by a civil or religious ceremony and registered in the state in which the couple reside. This means that there is no marriage certificate or license.
In the states where common law marriage is legal, couples who are common law married have the same legal benefits and obligations as couples who are legally married.
Both parties to the marriage, as with statutory marriage, must still obey legal requirements to marry, including:
It is legal in: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and also in the District of Columbia. In New Hampshire, common law marriage may be recognized following the death of one of the spouses, in determining the distribution of their estate.
Read More About:
Yes, if a marriage is recognized in the state where the taxpayers currently live, or where the common law marriage was formed, they can file jointly.
In some cases you might be able to pay fewer taxes if you file as single and claim your partner as a dependent. If you and your partner meet the following requirements, you may be able to claim your partner as a dependent:
If you and your partner meet these requirements, it might be more beneficial to file as single rather than filing a joint tax return.
Figuring out if you are common law married by itself can be confusing and full of different legal implications. When you add taxes into the mix things can get complicated fast. In order to figure out what is best for you and to understand all the options available to you it is best to consult with a family law attorney or a tax attorney depending on your issue.
Last Modified: 07-25-2018 06:07 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.