To obtain a common law marriage, a couple generally must 1) intend to be married, 2) live together as a married couple, and 3) hold themselves out to the public as being married. The chief legal (i.e., nonreligious) difference between a common law marriage and a normal marriage is that in a common law marriage there is no marriage certificate or license--instead there is an implied or oral contract.
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.
If you have a common law spouse you can either file jointly or you can file separately. 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: 11-26-2013 12:40 PM PSTLaw 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.