Marriage remains a vital part of American life. The number of marriages has remained generally stable, at around two million each year – and the same is true for divorces. Unfortunately, statistics also speak for themselves: Each marriage runs a fifty-fifty chance of falling apart down the line and ending in divorce. It is usually a very difficult time in life – made worse by a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the institution. Common law marriage and divorce are one of the most prevalent.
Common Law Marriage: What It Is
In Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia, you can enter marriage through an institution called common law marriage – by habit and repute. Each state governs it differently and sets different requirements for the married pair. For example, Utah only recognizes it if it was validated by a court or administrative order. The one thread in common between the states is that due to the generally unregulated nature of common law marriage, states gravitate away from it and tend to abolish the institution.
Common Law Divorce: The Myth
Of course, when it comes to abolishing an existing marriage, things get complicated. One of the most common misconceptions is that it is possible to divorce someone as easily as marrying them through common law marriage. It’s certainly an attractive idea, allowing for cutting out the need for a family law attorney.
While it might seem counter-intuitive, there is no such option. All marriage contracts have to be dissolved by the court, following a specific filing. No matter how long the two spouses might be living apart, if a divorce case was not settled before the court, they are considered married under law, with all the duties, obligations, and complications that might stem from this fact.
The One Exception
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Common law divorce does not exist, but there is a situation where two persons living under common law marriage conditions are considered divorced automatically. More accurately, if they live in a state that has never recognized, or ceased to recognize common law marriages, they are considered by law to be two complete strangers – and there is no genuine need for a family law attorney and the court.
That is, unless they live in New Hampshire, where the courts recognize common law marriage insofar probate proceedings are concerned.
Looking at a divorce or separation and have no idea how to react and where to begin? Contact Michael C. Craven, Divorce Lawyers Chicago today to start containing the situation today!