What Constitutes a Common Law Marriage?

December 5, 2008


There are no clean-cut designations that determine whether someone is common law married or not. All that needs to be shown is that the two of you intended to be common law married and presented yourselves to the public as a married couple. In order to establish a common law marriage, Courts will be looking for specific indicators such as whether or not you maintained joint financial accounts, or joint credit cards. They will also ask if you filed joint tax returns, or listed your significant other as a “spouse” on insurance forms. If other evidence suggests that you are not common law married, however, such findings can negate these items.




Common Law Checklist:


Joint tax returns


Beneficiary on insurance


Joint accounts or jointly held property


Socially represented themselves as married


Those who will testify that they believed the couple was married


The wearing of wedding bands


Woman’s adoption of the man’s surname


Indication of marital status on employment applications


Tokens of marriage


Mail addressed to the couple


Address labels


Greeting on home telephone messaging


Hosting holiday gatherings as a couple


Identification of common law marriage date

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