Common law marriage is an alternative form of partnership that allows couples to form a legally recognized union without a formal ceremony or permission.
For Utah residents considering common law marriage, it is important to understand the legal requirements, rights, and consequences associated with such unions.
What is Common Law Marriage?
In today’s society, traditional marriage is not the only option for couples seeking a committed relationship. If you live in this state and are considering civil marriage, it is important to understand the legal requirements, rights, and consequences associated with this type of relationship.
Legal Requirements in Utah
Living together is the basic requirement for a civil marriage. Simply put, the couple must live together and share a home.
- Mutual consent: Both partners must intend to consider themselves husband and wife;
- Public Statement: The couple must present themselves to the public as a married couple. This could include using the same last name, representing each other as married or filing a joint tax return;
- Legal Capacity: Both partners must be at least 18 years old and mentally capable.
Rights and Consequences:
Once a civil marriage is consummated, it is treated the same as a formal marriage in terms of rights and responsibilities. The couple receives legal recognition and is entitled to various benefits, including:
- Property rights: Spouses are entitled to inherit each other’s property, just as married couples are;
- Spousal support: In the event of separation or divorce, common-law spouses may be entitled to spousal support or alimony, as the case may be;
- Health Insurance: Some employers and insurance companies recognize common-law marriages by allowing partners to share the same health insurance policy.
If the couple has children together, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to the children.
Establishing a Common Law Marriage in Utah
To create one in Utah, follow these steps:
- Cohabitate: Live together and share a home;
- Mutual consent: Both partners must consider themselves husband and wife
- Public Statement: Introduce yourself to the public as a married couple using the same last name, representing each other as spouses, or filing joint tax returns;
- Documentation of Intent: Keep evidence of your intention to be married, such as joint bank accounts, joint accounts, or lease agreements;
- Affidavit of Marriage: Complete an Affidavit of Marriage, which is the legal document that proves your common-law marriage. This document must be notarized and kept as proof of your union.
It is important to note that not all states recognize civil marriages. If you have one in Utah but then move to a state that does not recognize it, your marital status may not be recognized.
How long do you have to be together for common law marriage in Utah?
In Utah, there is no definite period of time in which a couple must be together. The key factor in determining a common-law marriage is the mutual consent of the couple, and their conduct in society as a married couple.
The length of time together and evidence of living together are often considered by the court in determining the existence of such a union.
Although there is no specific term requirement, a long duration of cohabitation and consistent conduct as a married couple can strengthen the claim of a civil union.
Common law marriage offers an alternative option for couples wishing to enter into a legally recognized union in Utah. By meeting the necessary requirements, stating your commitment openly, and preserving evidence of your intentions, you can enter into a common law marriage. To fully understand your rights, responsibilities, and consequences of this option, you should consult a lawyer.