Is there common law marriage in california

Contents

  1. Does California Recognize a Common Law Marriage? | Furman & Zavatsky LLP
  2. What Is a “Common Law” Marriage?
  3. Same Sex Marriages & Domestic Partnerships in California
  4. Popular Directory Searches

Does California Recognize a Common Law Marriage? | Furman & Zavatsky LLP

Instead, when the laws of another state apply to a case, states have to blindly defer to them and apply them as if they were their own. When it comes to common law marriages, this means that California, even though it does not allow California citizens to become married under the common law, must recognize as married two people who were common law married in a state that allows it, like South Carolina. An example of how California is bound by the Full Faith and Credit Clause to honor common law marriages that happened in other states comes from a case back in , In re Marriage of Smyklo.

In this case, the husband and wife married in However, they separated and divorced in , and the husband gained custody of their two young children and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, one of the states that does recognize the validity of common law marriages. Four years later, in , however, the husband asked his ex-wife to join him in Alabama.

While in Alabama, the ex-spouses lived like a married couple, again. They shared a bedroom, raised their two children, filed joint tax returns, and entertained friends in their house together, like a couple would. After three years of cohabitating, however, the couple — now married by common law — and their children moved to California, where a marriage by common law is not possible. They stayed in California from through without officially marrying in the state. This lasted until the husband moved to Hawaii, where he eventually married someone else.

The wife filed an action in the courts of California for a determination on whether she was married to the husband, or not.

What Is a “Common Law” Marriage?

Even though the court was in California, it applied the laws of Alabama to determine whether the couple had been married under common law while they had cohabited for three years while in that state. After finding that they had been married under common law in Alabama, the court in California decided that this marriage was due Full Faith and Credit under the Constitution, and that California had to acknowledge their marriage, even though it could not have happened in our state.

Common law marriages create a complexity in one of the aspects of the law that should seem to be the most straightforward — whether you are married to someone else, or not. Even though it should be a simple question to answer, the reality is that there are complexities and that, even if you are currently in a state that does not allow marriages to happen under common law, these states still have to recognize common law marriages made in states that do allow them to happen.

Common law marriage

Making a mistake on this question can be shocking. To find that you are legally married to someone else when you had never had a wedding can be a surprise. Still, residents of other states who have common law marriages recognized where they live visit California or do business in California or hold property or a bank account in California, the state of California is probably going to recognize it.

If you live in California and live with someone but are not legally married, that changes the property and spousal support situation - in fact, you may or may not be able to get any support but it wouldn't be "spousal" support as such and property division may have to be worked out quite differently. But that won't change child support, child custody, or visitation rights issues at all. You don't have to be married to have a child together - and the child's rights are not canceled, nor the parents', simply because the parents are not legally married.

Before we move on to talk about what happens when two people who were long living together but were never legally married break up, first realize that one can always easily get married in California if you're not already.


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And under California's "confidential marriage license" law, you can keep the marriage license off the public record if you like and keep the marriage itself as confidential as possible. You may not want to draw a lot of attention, perhaps, and confidential marriages accommodate you there.

Same Sex Marriages & Domestic Partnerships in California

And without a court order, no one can even look at the marriage certificate. But if you have separated from your partner or are about to, you may need to focus on the next couple sections just below instead. There are certain though relatively rare situations where a couple in California who were not legally married can still enjoy various financial rights during a divorce, just as if they had been married. For starters, if either or both of the partners had a reasonable, "good faith" belief that they two were legally married, even though the marriage ended up being declared void, a "putative spouse" situation is created.

If the couple did the best they could to meet the legal requirements of marriage under California law, but some legal technicality was violated, the spouse may be regarded as if they had been legally married all along for many purposes. One common situation occurs when one spouse had a previous marriage which he or she thought was legally dissolved, but it turns out the divorce was not properly finalized after all. That could go unnoticed for a long time if the couple lived in a different state and it was a very small technicality that went wrong.

And if the prior divorce was not final, then the new marriage could not be valid since polygamy is not legal in the United States. There are many situations, both in and out of divorces, where putative spouse status can become a big issue.

Popular Directory Searches

Two people who thought they had long been married may simply want to get the matter resolved - putative spouse status could be followed by getting married "again" to make it valid. Or, in a divorce, a procedural problem at the beginning of the marriage may be discovered. That may lead to a denial of spousal support rights and property division rights. But it's possible that the spouse who would receive support after the divorce, might fight for and obtain putative spouse status. But you can't just say you believed you were married and leave it at that.

It has to be proved. That's where you need a good family law lawyer.

Plus, if you have a pre or post nuptial agreement and you discover your marriage was not valid, you will need to become a putative spouse, "re" marry your "spouse," and also get the nuptial agreement reinstated. Without a valid marriage or putative spouse status, community property laws and alimony laws won't apply. So if there's a problem, you may want to get it corrected as soon as possible. We can help you do that. The case involved Michelle Marvin suing for support and half the estate of Lee Marvin after breaking up but never having been married.


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  • However, she failed to satisfactorily prove her point. BUT, that doesn't mean that others in similar situations have never or can never prove such an implied contract. If you had a written or verbal contract you can prove existed, or can show that by actions such a contract was assumed by both of you, you may be able to collect at least a limited amount of "palimony" or "Marvin" support, even without a legal marriage ever having existed.

    If you and your partner thought you were married but it turns out you really were not, it may be an annulment has to be sought instead of a divorce. How does this affect alimony, property division, and other issues? The fact is, you will lose your alimony and community property rights if an annulment is sought instead of a divorce. If the other party willingly consents to give support or divide the property a certain way, that's one thing, but that's not necessarily going to happen. Also, there are strict limits on what an annulment can be filed for and also statutes of limitations involved.


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    • We at San Diego Divorce Attorney handle much more than just divorce cases, though we do have very, very extensive experience in that regard. We also handle all manner of family law cases, including issues related to common law marriages, putative spouse status, legal separations, annulments, child support, alimony and "palimony," and more.

      If you have any questions on any of these matters, we will be able to quickly address your concerns and help you to better understand your legal situation and legal options. We have many years of working to help local San Diego and Southern California residents overcome various obstacles they face in regard to marriage and divorce law in California. We know the law and the local courtroom processes down to the minutia, and we can ensure the best possible outcome to your case in a minimum amount of time. We always treat each and every client with the utmost respect, and uphold the highest ethical and professional standards.

      We offer you top-tier family law legal help at highly competitive rates, and we have a long track record of winning for our clients. At San Diego Divorce Attorney , we can help you sort through all issues related to common law marriage, cohabitation, and other similar family law matters. We know what the law of California stipulates in regard to these things down to the nitty-gritty details.

      What Is Common Law Marriage and Where Is It Legally Recognized?

      And we have deep experience in handling these types of cases in San Diego and throughout Southern California. To learn more or for a free consultation and quick beginning to your case, do not hesitate to contact us today by calling San Diego Divorce Attorney. Suite C.