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What is a Common Law Partner?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A common law partner is an individual who is recognized as the legal spouse of another person despite the fact that a wedding ceremony did not occur. This type of union is commonly referred to as a common law marriage. There are certain requirements that generally must be met, and these can vary from one jurisdiction to another. In some places, it is not possible to establish a common law marriage, but if the union was established elsewhere it will be recognized. Furthermore, it is important to note that when a common law partner is recognized, she is normally regarded in the same manner as a spouse acquired though a formal marriage process.

Common law marriages are serious arrangements because they legally bind one person to another in same way that a marriage license and wedding ceremony would. There are many misconceptions about how a person becomes the common law partner of another. Some people believe that the union simply forms once two people live together for a certain period of time. Cohabitation is required, but there are usually other requirements that must be met.

The rules for forming a common law marriage can vary from one jurisdiction to the next. It is always required, however, for an individual to consent to being a common law partner. An individual must not only agree to be married, but the couple is usually required to present themselves to the public as husband and wife.

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In the U.S., most states do not allow the formation of common law partnerships. Certain states, although barring new partnerships, recognize those that were established before a certain date. Even if a state does not allow common law marriage, it will generally recognize a common law partner as a legal spouse if the partnership was established in another state and met the requirements outlined there.

When common law marriages are recognized, individuals are usually treated as spouses who obtained marriage certificates and had wedding ceremonies. For example, if one common law partner dies, the survivor will likely be entitled to inherit her possessions. What many people fail to realize is that this also affects how these relationships are terminated. Since the individuals are regarded as legal spouses, they are usually required to proceed through normal divorce procedures to free themselves of one another and to gain the right to marry someone else. Furthermore, divorce from a common law partner may entitled her to alimony and fair property division.

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