A Common Misconception About Common Law Marriages

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We’ve all heard the term common law marriage which we believe to be defined by living together with our partner for more than 7 years. This is a myth. In fact, you could live with your partner for 20 years and still not reap the benefits of marriage because not every state chooses to acknowledge common law marriages.The following states recognize Common Law Marriages although certain restrictions may apply in each state:

New Hampshire
Ohio Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Washington, D.C.

If you do live in one of the states that recognize Common Law marriage, in order to solidify your common law marriage you should:

1. Tell people that you are married.
2. Use the same last name.

3. File joint income taxes.

A common law marriage offers you all the legal benefits of a legal marriage but if you do live in a state that recognizes a common law marriage and you are living with a partner that you do not want to become legally married to, you must do the following:

1) Draft out a letter that states that you and your partner do not intend to be married or legally bound in any way. Include that you are both independent adults co habitating freely.
2) Have this letter signed by a notary and scan it as a picture and email it to yourself for safe keeping.

By agreeing NOT to be married by documenting it in writing in a state that recognizes common law marriages you can save yourself the heartache of having to file for divorce later. Yes, even if you never had a wedding you will have to file for a legal divorce if you and your partner lived as though you were married.

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