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Common Law Marriages

Does Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Perhaps you were with your partner for years, but you never took the leap to walk down the aisle. You were both committed—perhaps even more so than the majority of married couples you know. But there was never a diamond ring, an expensive wedding, or a license application.

Suddenly, an unexpected wrench is thrown into the life you’ve built. It could be the birth of a child, the death of your partner, or divorce that disrupts your plans. Now you need to know: does the state of Michigan recognize this relationship as a marriage? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is a relationship that is legally recognized as a marriage, despite the lack of a license or ceremony. Contrary to popular belief, common-law marriages are rare and only allowed by a few states.

A common law marriage must meet certain requirements. Usually, both couples must:

  • Agree that they are married
  • Live together
  • Behave and speak as though they are married

Interestingly, common-law couples must obtain a divorce if they wish to end the arrangement.

Why Do I Need My Relationship Recognized as a Marriage?

Common law marriages have all of the same benefits as traditional marriages. This includes healthcare benefits, hospital visitation rights, spousal support rights, and more.

However, these couples avoid the costs, formalities, and inconvenience of the standard route to marriage.

Does Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

There was a time in which common-law marriages were recognized in Michigan, but they were abolished in 1957. Now, a couple must obtain a legal license to marry in our state.

Of course, any common law marriages that were established prior to 1957 are still recognized.

With that being said, Michigan does recognize common law marriages that are valid in other states. This is due to the “full faith and credit” clause of the constitution.

For your convenience, we’ve provided a list of the states that allow common-law marriages:

  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • New Hampshire
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Montana

Common law marriages are also allowed in Washington, D.C.

Your Legal Options

If you need or want the benefits offered by marriage, it may be time to make the commitment. O, it may be time to call a lawyer.

In Michigan, it is possible to create a cohabitation agreement. Although this won’t qualify as a marriage, an agreement can help you clarify terms and get them in writing.

A cohabitation agreement should always be drawn up and prepared by an attorney. That way, you don’t miss any details that could come back to haunt you.

The Gucciardo Law Firm can help you establish a cohabitation agreement that answers these questions:

  • How is each asset owned and what are the percentages of ownership?
  • How are debts, incomes, and expenses shared?
  • How are bank accounts managed?
  • In the case of separation, how will assets and possessions be divided?
  • How will disputes be resolved?

If you would like to discuss a cohabitation agreement, simply give us a call or visit our contact page to learn more.

Too much information?

We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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