Common Law Marriage In California
Get answers to common questions about common law marriage in our state. Contact Stolar & Associates for specific advice about your situation.
What Is Common Law Marriage?
“Common law” is when a couple has lived together and held themselves to the public as married for a long enough period of time that the court recognizes the marriage, regardless of a ceremony.
Is There Common Law Marriage In California?
No, California does not recognize “common law marriage.” Even though California does not have common law marriages, unmarried couples who have been together for an extended period of time do still have some rights.
At my firm, Stolar & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, I can help you protect those rights and provide you with straightforward advice regarding your situation.
Common Law Marriages From Other States
It may be possible to be seen as married by California courts if you lived as a couple in another state that recognizes common law marriage.
For recognition of your common law marriage in California, you and your partner must have met the other state’s criteria for common law marriage. These laws vary from state to state, so it is important to work with an attorney who can help you determine if you meet the criteria. In general, most states require that you hold yourselves out as married, such as filing joint tax returns and using the same last name.
The following states recognize common law marriage:
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
What Are The Rights Of Unmarried Couples In California?
Even if you were not legally married or do not meet another state’s criteria for common law marriage, you may have limited rights similar to divorcing couples. For example, if you reasonably believed that you had a valid marriage, you may have the right to financial support and the division of assets. Whether you had a reasonable belief can be difficult to prove and often involves situations where there was a technical error in the marriage process.
You may also have rights after you separate if there was a written or verbal contract promising financial support, such as a cohabitation agreement. This is often referred to as “palimony,” and it similar to alimony for couples who have been together for an extended period of time.
Seek Guidance From An Experienced Family Law Attorney
Because every situation is unique, I can assess your case and help you understand your legal rights and options after a separation or for any other purpose related to your union. I also welcome calls from out-of-state individuals who are facing legal proceedings in California.