Common law is a marriage term used to describe scenarios where two people cohabitate and present as a married couple but have never gone through the official process of getting a marriage license. People in this situation might consider themselves married because they perform all the duties and responsibilities of a married couple, such as sharing finances, living together, and/or having children. However, the relationship between common law spouses is not always recognized by the government, which can present some challenges if the couple ever decides to divorce.
In North Carolina, common law marriage is not currently recognized by state law. To be officially married in the state, couples must go through the process of getting a marriage license from the county register of deeds. The law does not currently make any provision for common law marriages that were established in other states.
Couples who are in a common law marriage may still be able to receive some of the benefits that are typically associated with being married, such as health insurance coverage and filing taxes jointly. However, it is important to note that not all benefits will be available to common law couples. For example, common law spouses cannot receive spousal Social Security benefits or file for divorce using the simplified process available to married couples.
If a couple decides to divorce and one spouse claims they were in a common law marriage, the burden of proof will be on that spouse to provide evidence to support their claim. Some of the things that could be used as evidence of a common law marriage include:
It is important to note that simply living together and presenting yourselves as a married couple is not enough to be considered common law married. There must be evidence of a financial or legal commitment between the two spouses for a court to consider the relationship as a marriage.
There are a few benefits that common law couples can take advantage of, even though the state of North Carolina does not currently recognize common law marriages. For example, common law spouses may be able to file their taxes jointly and receive health insurance coverage through their partner’s job. Additionally, if one spouse dies, the other may be able to collect survivor benefits from Social Security or pensions.
There are also some disadvantages to being in a common law marriage, especially if the relationship ends and the couple decides to divorce. Because North Carolina does not currently recognize common law marriages, couples in this situation will not be able to use the simplified divorce process that is available to married couples. This means that common law spouses will have to go through the more complicated and time-consuming process of getting a divorce. Additionally, common law spouses may not be able to receive spousal support or alimony payments from their former partner.
If you move to North Carolina from another state that recognizes common law marriage, your common law marriage will not be automatically recognized by the state. For your common law marriage to be recognized, you will need to go through the process of getting a marriage license from the county register of deeds.
There is no set amount of time that you have to live together in order to be considered common-law married. However, it is generally necessary to show that you have a financial or legal commitment to each other for a court to recognize your relationship as a marriage. But this won’t be legally recognized in the state of North Carolina or any other states that have not legalized common law marriage.
If you own a house together but are not married, the house will be considered joint property. This means that each person in the relationship has an equal right to property. If you decide to split up, you will need to come to an agreement on who will get the house or how to sell the property. If you cannot agree, you may need to go to court to have a judge decide who will get the house.
No, an unmarried couple cannot get a divorce in North Carolina. However, if the couple has children, they may be able to file for child custody and support. Because the livelihood of children is at stake, the court may grant specific powers to unmarried parents, such as ordering one parent to pay child support or giving custody to one parent.
If you are in a common law marriage, an attorney can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. They can also guide you through creative solutions to common problems that may arise, such as dividing property or drafting co-parenting agreements. Additionally, an attorney can represent you in court if you need to file for child custody or support.
If you have questions about common law marriage or any other family law issue, get in touch with The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you understand your rights and options under any circumstances that might be legally complex or emotionally charged. We are here to help you protect your interests, your family, and your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.