Ohio common law marriage laws

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Contents:
  1. Think you have a common law marriage in Ohio? Think again.
  2. World Population Review
  3. What Is Common Law Marriage - States, Rights & Requirements

Think you have a common law marriage in Ohio? Think again.

For example, if you and your partner get engaged, you both may intend to enter into marriage, but the marriage will not take place until some time in the future. So, such a couple does not become married by common law when they get engaged even if they live in a common law marriage state. For a common law marriage to take place, both partners must have a present intent to marry, which is the intent to enter into marriage immediately.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

Couples who want to be married by common law must do more than just have present intent — they must publicly represent themselves as a married couple. The public presentation requirement effectively means that you cannot be married by common law in secret — and must make your marital status known to others. Cohabitation and consummation can be — but are not always — needed for common law marriage.

The cohabitation requirement means that, in general, a couple must live together continuously as spouses, not merely on occasion. However, there is typically no specific minimum time requirement involved for a court to find a common law marriage exists. Similarly, states can require that you live together as a couple, meaning that a sexual relationship exists between you and your spouse.

However, there is no clear standard as to how much of a sexual relationship there must be, or what characteristics it must have. Beyond that, courts have found common law marriages exist between partners who did not, because of infirmity or advanced age, have a sexual relationship, but who met all the other requirements for a common law marriage. Besides the state-specific requirements, common law marriages can involve practical or less commonly encountered issues. Again, with any legal issue involving common law marriage, state-specific answers to any question can differ, but there are some general principles that apply in many situations.

Married or not, anyone can change his or her name by going through the necessary process — there is no requirement that you have to go through an officiated or solemnized wedding ceremony to change your name. This process typically involves filing a petition with a court, attending a hearing, publishing a notice of the proposed name change in a local paper of record, and notifying government agencies and changing official records once a court approves of the change.

You then move to a state that does not allow common law marriage. What happens then? Fortunately, you have nothing to worry about: If you are married in one state, all other states must recognize your marriage, even if you move from a state that allows common law marriage to one that does not. For couples who live together in a state that recognizes common law marriage but who do not wish to be married, there is some risk that a court could find that a common law marriage exists.

For example, common law marriage most often becomes an issue after a couple separates or one partner dies. Does that mean you entered into a common law marriage? If so, your partner would earn spousal inheritance rights, which would significantly change any inheritance plans you had made.

In such situations, it is often wise for couples to create a contract or property agreement that explicitly states the nature of your relationship.

You should also outline a property distribution plan that applies if you split up, stating that you have never intended to enter into a common law marriage. With the recent changes to laws about same-sex marriages , legal questions about the validity of same-sex common law marriages have arisen.


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While it appears that common law marriage laws now apply equally to same-sex couples, there are situations that may be less clear. People in same-sex relationships who have questions about common law marriage should speak to an experienced family law attorney. In some situations, the partners in a romantic relationship may not meet some requirements necessary to become married by common law, while other common law marriage elements may be present.

For example, if a couple living in a common law marriage state lives together, holds themselves out as a married couple, and intends to be married, they cannot actually be married if one of them is already married to someone else. However, once that impediment is removed, such as by the partner getting a divorce, the couple could then become legally married by common law. In general, courts look at claims of common law marriage with skepticism and scrutiny because of the potential of abuse.

World Population Review

Courts much prefer situations in which your marital status is clear. If you ever have a question about common law marriage, its implications, or how it applies to you, speaking to a lawyer is your best option. All Rights Reserved. So, if a common-law marriage was valid before October 10, , or was created in another state or country which recognizes the validity of that type of marriage, the marriage is still valid in Ohio though not created here.

This also presupposes that there has been no termination by divorce, death, dissolution, or annulment. Attempting to prove, in Ohio, a common-law marriage from another state or county would obviously involve presenting the law of that state or country to the courts in Ohio and possibly involve presentation of actual court decisions from that state or county depending upon the facts involved in the case. If you have any issues regarding the alleged existence of a common-law marriage or recognition of a common-law marriage from Ohio or from a foreign jurisdiction, you should consult with a family law attorney.

William Geary is a family lawyer who has been practicing since He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, and also is a practicing member of the Ohio bar.

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What Is Common Law Marriage - States, Rights & Requirements

In October , Oho stopped recognizing common law marriages and started requiring couples to obtain a marriage certificate in order to receive the many benefits bestowed upon legally married couples. As a result, Ohio only recognizes common law marriages under the following circumstances:. This change in the law has important ramifications for common law couples who would like to end their relationship.

As a result, you will need to get a legal divorce in the event of a breakup.