Pennsylvania common law marriage laws

Neither consummation of the marriage nor cohabitation was required.

Common-law marriage in the United States

However, in a case where one party claims the vows were made and the other party denies this, the court will look at how the parties conducted their lives. Did they live together? Did they introduce themselves to others as husband and wife? How did they file their taxes? The purpose of this inquiry is to help determine which party is telling the truth about the vows.

If there is no claim that words of present intent were exchanged, there is no marriage no matter how long and how consistently the parties acted as if they were husband and wife. When one party is deceased, and the other party seeks a share of the estate, special rules apply.

Statutory law prohibits a person claiming to be the surviving spouse from testifying about the creation of the marriage. The purpose of the law is to prevent fraud against estates. In cases where the claimant is barred from testifying about the creation of the marriage by this law, but can produce testimony and documents to show that the parties consistently conducted themselves as husband and wife, the court may consider this as circumstantial evidence that vows were exchanged and may conclude that there was a common law marriage.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of court decisions involving estates in which a court took the circumstantial evidence approach without explaining that it would expect direct evidence of the vows if both parties were alive. This is part of the reason many people believe that acting as if you were married makes you married.

There is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that attempts to end the confusion. Bush, So. Where a marriage ceremonial or common-law is contracted while an impediment exists, cohabitation as a married couple of the parties in good faith after removal of the impediment establishes a valid common-law marriage as of the day the impediment is removed.

This is true even if the parties at the time the marriage was contracted were aware of the impediment, but they nevertheless manifest or demonstrate their desire to live as a married couple i. Continued cohabitation as a married couple after the removal of the impediment raises a presumption that a valid common-law marriage arises immediately upon removal of the impediment.

Not recognized since at least If a common-law marriage is alleged, submit to the regional chief counsel RCC for a legal opinion. For the possibility that a putative marriage may have been created, see GN If persons, while domiciled in Arizona, contract a common-law marriage in a state where common-law marriages can be contracted, the marriage is not recognized as valid in Arizona if the parties intended by their actions to evade Arizona's laws. Not recognized.


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However, for the possibility that a putative marriage may have been created, see GN A common-law marriage does not require any kind of ceremony but only the agreement of the parties, followed by the mutual and open assumption of a marital relationship. A temporary stay by nonresidents does not establish a common-law marriage. An express mutual agreement to enter into a present marriage, and cohabitation after the agreement, are required.

If there is a legal impediment to a marriage, but a couple agrees to marry and live together as a married couple, a common law marriage begins when 1 the legal impediment is removed, AND 2 they continue to live together as a married couple. To demonstrate a common law marriage, the individuals must have had an exchange of words that made it clear they both consented to marry and continue to live together as a married couple. An agreement of marriage may be inferred from cohabitation and reputation i.

Marriage vs. Common Law Marriage: What's the Difference?

At least one party must have shown good faith to establish a common-law marriage by cohabitation and reputation. Consummation of agreement may be inferred by an express agreement of present intention to be man and wife. Where parties entered into a ceremonial marriage that was not valid because of an impediment, and one of the parties believed in good faith that the marriage was valid, their continued cohabitation as husband and wife after the impediment was removed is sufficient to establish a valid common-law marriage.

If common-law marriage is alleged, submit to the RCC for a legal opinion. In , Illinois abolished common-law marriages contracted after June 30, Illinois does not recognize the common-law marriages of its domiciliaries that arise out of brief sojourns in common-law marriage States. However, where parties reside in another state at the time of contracting a common-law marriage that was valid in that state, such marriage is considered valid upon their move to Illinois. Prior to that date, if parties attempted to contract a marriage in which there was an impediment, but both parties believed in good faith they were validly married, a valid common-law marriage was created by their having lived together in Indiana as husband and wife after removal of the impediment.

If either party knew of the impediment before its removal, there must have been an agreement or ceremonial marriage after removal of the impediment to establish a valid marriage. Evidence of cohabitation of the parties after the agreement to be husband and wife is not required. In the absence of proof to the contrary, an agreement to be husband and wife may be implied where the parties cohabited as husband and wife and were reputed to be such.

Where a marriage is contracted while an impediment exists, cohabitation of the parties in good faith after removal of the impediment establishes a valid common-law marriage. While a common-law marriage, valid where entered into, is ordinarily recognized, a relationship originally bigamous and known to be such by the parties is not recognized as a common-law marriage in the absence of a new ceremonial marriage or specific marital agreement, even though continued cohabitation after removal of the impediment constitutes a common-law marriage under the laws of the state where entered into.

However, by statute, if parties domiciled in Massachusetts enter into a ceremonial marriage while one party is barred from remarrying by a Massachusetts divorce, and one party entered into the marriage in good faith, a valid marriage arises upon removal of the impediment if the parties are domiciled in Massachusetts at that time. A new ceremonial marriage is not required. If the parties agreed to be husband and wife in a state not recognizing common-law marriage, their mere cohabitation as husband and wife in Michigan would have established a valid common-law marriage.

This inference can be based on long cohabitation of the parties during which time they consistently held themselves out to friends, relatives, and to the public as husband and wife. Notoriety is the most important element necessary to establish a common-law marriage. While Minnesota does not recognize common-law marriages that arise out of brief sojourns in common-law States, it does recognize a common-law marriage if the couple takes up residence but not necessarily domicile in another state that allows common-law marriages and the parties establish the public reputation in that state of having assumed the marital relationship as well as other elements of a common-law marriage applicable in that state.

Under Montana case law, the party wishing to establish the existence of a common-law marriage must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that:. See PR If you still question whether a short period of cohabitation is sufficient to establish public repute, submit to the RCC for a legal opinion.

Persons who are otherwise competent to contract marriage together, who cohabit and acknowledge each other asspouses, and who are generally reputed to be such for three years, and until one of them dies, are deemed legally married. Under New Hampshire law, a marriage is absolutely void where either party to the marriage has a former spouse still living and knows that the former marriage has not been legally dissolved. For further details, see PR Not recognized from through Whether the marriage was validly contracted in the foreign jurisdiction is determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the marriage allegedly was established.

A common-law marriage is also void if one of the parties to the marriage had a prior marriage that was not annulled or dissolved. New York natural law generally prohibits polygamy, incest, and marriages offensive to the public sense of morality to a degree generally regarded with abhorrence. However, North Dakota recognizes common-law marriages validly entered into in other states or nations. Recognized until at least If common-law marriage is alleged, submit to the regional chief counsel RCC for a legal opinion. A temporary stay by nonresidents is insufficient to establish a recognized common-law marriage.

Ohio recognizes common-law marriages validly entered into in other states or nations. A temporary stay by nonresidents does not suffice as grounds for establishing a common-law marriage.


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A relationship recognized as a marriage in another state where it was consummated is recognized in Oregon, even though such relationship would not be a marriage if the same factors were relied upon to create a marriage in Oregon. For details on surviving spouse under Oregon intestacy law, see GN Although Pennsylvania did not require the parties to exchange a specific form of words to create a common-law marriage, it was essential that the parties agreed to be husband and wife. Where one party is deceased, or is otherwise unable to testify about the exchange of words necessary to have created a common-law marriage, Pennsylvania courts presume that a common-law marriage existed if there is sufficient proof that the parties lived together as husband and wife on a constant basis and had a general and broad reputation of being married.

This presumption that a common-law marriage existed is rebutted where there is evidence indicating that the parties did not agree to be husband and wife. For details on void ceremonial marriages and removal of an impediment, see GN Where both of the parties knew the marriage was void because of an impediment, a new agreement was necessary after the removal of the impediment and the parties had to continue to cohabit as husband and wife. If neither party knew of the impediment to the marriage, mere cohabitation of the parties as husband and wife after removal of the impediment validates the marriage from the date the impediment was removed.

In addition, where parties contracted a bigamous, ceremonial marriage, a valid common-law marriage arises from the parties' cohabitation as husband and wife, after removal of the impediment. No new agreement of marriage is required if the evidence establishes clearly and convincingly that the parties intended at all times to be husband and wife.

It is not necessary to contract the bigamous marriage in good faith by either party.

LM: Common Law Marriage

However, if a bigamous common-law marriage is involved and the parties were aware of the impediment, a new agreement is necessary. Where parties contract a bigamous marriage in good faith, and both parties believe they are married, a valid common-law marriage arises if they cohabit as husband and wife after removal of the impediment. However, if either party knew of the impediment, a new agreement of marriage after removal of the impediment, followed by cohabitation as husband and wife, is required to establish a common-law marriage.

How Do Courts Decide Common Law Marriage in SC?

South Dakota recognizes common-law marriages validly entered into in other states. However, where parties free to marry lived together for a long time and held themselves out to the public as husband and wife, both parties, as well as third parties, are in law not permitted to deny that they were validly married, provided there is an affirmative showing that:. This relationship, in effect, gives the survivor and children of the marriage inheritance rights in Tennessee; it has no effect outside Tennessee. The passage of time and ceasing of cohabitation will not terminate a common-law marriage once it is in existence.

Common Law Marriage States 12222

Good faith at the inception of the relationship on the part of at least one of the parties, or a new agreement after removal of the impediment, is required. Good faith means intent to marry, together with the belief that there is no impediment to such marriage.

If the parties enter into a relationship and all elements for a valid common-law marriage are present, except there is a prior undissolved marriage known to the parties, there is no need for a new express agreement to give rise to a valid common-law marriage after removal of the impediment.

Such agreement may be implied from continued cohabitation of the parties and their holding out to the public that they are husband and wife if, during their relationship, they maintained a continuous matrimonial intent. A claimant applying for benefits based on the existence of a common-law marriage must prove the validity of the marriage by:. The execution of a Declaration is prima facie evidence of the marriage and affirms the elements of a common-law marriage as shown within this subsection.

Further development of the common-law marriage relationship is unnecessary unless other facts indicate that the Declaration may not be valid. Providing evidence for development of evidence instructions, see GN Further development of the common-law marriage relationship is unnecessary unless other facts indicate that the declaration may not be valid.

Providing evidence that he or she proved the existence of the common-law marriage in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding for examples, see GN Such proceedings include filing a Social Security benefit application and providing evidence that the couple agreed to be married and thereafter:. If a claimant fails to initiate a proceeding proving the validity of a common-law marriage prior to the expiration of the one-year time limit, consider such marriage void.

For an explanation of this one-year time limit policy, see GN A claimant applying for benefits based on the existence of a common-law marriage must prove the validity of the marriage.


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