As of January 1, 2017, Alabama no longer recognizes new common law marriages. What does this mean for you?
If you have established a common law marriage prior to January 1, 2017 and that marriage has not been dissolved by divorce, you are still married. To establish that you were married at common law prior to January 1, 2017, you must establish four things:
- First, both you and the other person must have the legal right or “capacity to marry.” You must be of legal age, sound mind, and of course unrelated.
- Second, each person must intend to be married to the other person.
- Third, you both must hold yourselves out to family, friends and the community as being married. This is often evidenced by filing joint taxes; maintaining joint financial accounts; referring to the other party as your spouse in public or on official documents; sharing a last name; etc.
- Fourth, the marriage must have been established prior to 2017.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal requirement that cohabitation for a period of time automatically establishes a common law marriage. So if you have lived with another party for the last ten years, but you do not meet the requirements listed above, then you probably won’t be able to establish that you were married prior to January 1. If you have entered into a relationship with another person after January 1, 2017 and meet all of the other requirements above but you have not had a ceremonial marriage, then you also will not be able to prove a marriage.
Common law marriage is a complex issue. If you have questions about the legal status of your relationship, it is in your best interest to speak with a lawyer who is experienced in handling these cases. Tuscaloosa divorce attorney Leigh Snodsmith is available to answer your questions about the change to common law marriage in Alabama. Call our office at 205-469-7913 to schedule an appointment today.