Alabama Common Law Marriage

Alabama Common Law Marriage

You’ve lived with someone for fifteen years. You must be common-law married now, right? Wrong. Common law marriage has prerequisites beyond geographic location. In Alabama, there are four aspects that come together to create a common law marriage for couples who have not legally created a civil one.

Alabama Common Law Marriage Requirements

First, you and your significant other must legally be able to marry, in terms of age, marital status, and mental capacity. Second, there must be mutual intent to be married. Each party must consider their relationship a marriage, not an engagement or courtship or the like. Third, the couple must publically recognize themselves as a married couple. Sharing a last name, “husband” and “wife” titles, filing joint income tax returns, and even Facebook relationship statuses can satisfy this demand. Lastly, consummation and cohabitation must occur, though in Alabama, there is no time limit of cohabitation to determine a common law marriage.

If you and your significant other meet these requirements, then your relationship may very well be considered valid legal marriage at least for now. This allows you to file taxes together, claim each other for benefits, and receive all other benefits and responsibilities of marriage. Your marriage is legally binding unless severed through death or divorce, and must also go through the legal division of property.

Does Alabama Recognize Common Law Marriage?

This year, the Alabama Legislature is considered two bills related to common law marriage. One would have kept the common law marriage tradition in place. The other prevents couples from entering into common law marriages in Alabama after January 1, 2017. The later won the day. So beginning on January 1, 2017, couples will not be able to enter into common law marriages; however, couples who entered into these marriages prior to that time should still be considered to be married. This can all be very confusing and difficult to understand. If you are curious about your relationship or your rights in a common law marriage, the experienced family lawyers at New Beginnings Family Law can help. Contact the office today for a consultation.

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