Documents Used To Prove a Common-Law Marriage

Common-Law Marriage

For the longest time, the LGBTQ community did not have an alternative for a legally recognized union. Fortunately, this has now changed, and some states allow marriage among same-sex couples. You nonetheless should not fret if your state does not. You can opt for a common-law marriage. This is considered a legal union if you have lived with your partner for a specified timeframe, both of you intend to be married, present yourselves to other people as married and are of legal age and sound mental status.

A family law firm based in Albuquerque, NM, might not seem important for your union. You nonetheless will realize the folly of this when you have to prove to the courts that you are married under common law. Proof of the marriage is essential when you want to inherit your partner’s property, claim insurance benefits or get a divorce. Ending your union, after all, will go through the steps of any other legally recognized marriage. In a divorce, unfortunately, your partner can deny the existence of a common-law marriage to avoid division of property. In all instances, the following are the documentation you can use to prove a common-law marriage existed.

A Written Agreement

This marks the best form of evidence for a common-law marriage. It is a document that includes the intent of both parties in the marriage to marry, the date of the union’s start and the date. The validity of a written agreement will be considerably boosted if you have a witness to its signing and he/she also signs the document. In court, you can call this witness to establish that none of you was under duress to sign the agreement.

An Affidavit

Even when you have not signed a written agreement, you might have signed an affidavit at some point in your marriage. This affidavit states the existence of a marriage between two parties and is commonly used when including someone on your insurance plan or obtaining insurance benefits. In most cases, the courts will need the affidavit to be notarized, state the date of the marriage’s start and be witnessed by other parties.

legal documents

Financial and Legal Documents

Documents like joint tax return records and deeds with joint property ownership referring to partners as married can be proof of common-law marriage. Additionally, documents that you used the same last name and a will referring to a partner as a spouse will also be proof of the same. If your child’s birth certificate details you and your partner as his/her parents, some courts might consider this evidence of a marriage.

Signed Witness Statements

Alternatively, you can get signed statements from witnesses on the existence of a marriage between you and your spouse. In this case, their statements should support the existence of the elements of a common-law marriage between you and your partner. These are nonetheless primarily supporting documents used with others.

The forms of evidence from the above admissible in court differ among states. Either way, the essence of proof of a common-law marriage cannot be overstated. Get an attorney to guide you on what will work for you in case you need to prove the existence of marriage at some point.

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Sarah is a highly experienced legal advisor and freelance writer. She specializes in assisting tech companies with the complexities of the law and providing useful information to the public through her writing.