Sometimes, state law can consider that a couple is legally married even if they haven’t a ceremony or gone to a courthouse to make it official. Common law marriage describes when a couple has lived with each other long enough that a state considers them to be legally married.
Importantly, California does not have a common law marriage law. This means that a couple won’t be considered legally married no matter how long they’ve lived together in the state of California. Though California doesn’t consider couples in the state to be married after a long period of living together, it does recognize the marriage rights of other couples who have a common law marriage that occurred while living in another state.
When Is Common Law Marriage Recognized in California?
A common law marriage is recognized by the state of California if a couple has met the requirements for it in a state the recognizes it.
States that allow common law marriages include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Importantly, every state has unique laws about common law marriage; they all have different requirements and some even only allow common law marriage for certain circumstances. For example, New Hampshire only allows common law marriage for matters involving inheritance.
Is Common Law Marriage the Same as Domestic Partnership?
No. California allows domestic partnerships between any couples who wish to have one. A domestic partnership isn’t a marriage. Instead, couples with domestic partnerships do so to get certain benefits usually associated with marriage, such as being able to receive a partner’s state-administered health benefits. To learn more about domestic partnership in California, read our blog on the subject!
Why Does Common Law Marriage Matter in California?
Common law marriage matters to couples living in California because some of them might not realize they have legal rights typically only provided to married couples by the state. For example, a separating couple who met common law marriage requirements in another state before moving to California might have similar rights to that married spouses have while divorcing. This includes child support, spousal support, asset division, and other issues commonly associated with a divorce.
If you’re facing an issue involving common law marriage in the state of California, Law Offices of H. William Edgar is ready to help. Our attorneys are ready to help with the complexities of your situation and help you navigate any family law issues you might be experiencing.
Contact us today at (888) 251-9618 for a consultation that can help you decide if we’re the right firm for you.