What is a common law marriage?
When it comes to common law marriage in Oklahoma, there are a few misconceptions. First of all, you don’t enter into a common law marriage after a set amount of time. There are a lot of factors, but time isn’t technically one of them. Secondly, living with someone for an extended period of time doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a common law marriage.
For the most part, you’ll know if you’re in one. People in common law marriages don’t consider themselves single, and they don’t tell anyone they are. They often consider themselves married, even going so far as to tell people they are.
Even though common law marriages are informal, they must be ended formally with a divorce. This divorce equitably divides marital property and allows the two individuals to remarry.
If you believe that you’re in a common law marriage and you have any legal questions regarding divorce, adoption, fostering, estate planning, or anything else, the attorneys at Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City can share their legal expertise in your situation.
Factors Determining a Common Law Marriage
When Oklahoma courts want to determine whether two people are in a common law marriage, they consider multiple factors. There are five main things they look at about the couple.
- Do they have the legal capacity to be married (legal age of 18-or 16 with parental consent-not already married)?
- Is there a mutual agreement to be married?
- Is the relationship intended to be permanent?
- Do they live together as husband and wife?
- Do they represent themselves publicly as married?
Some things that point to a common law marriage are sharing a last name, living together, and telling people you’re married. However, there is stronger evidence such as joint bank accounts or tax returns and shared mortgages or property titles.
Ending a Common Law Marriage
If either person in a common law marriage gets married to someone else without first finalizing a divorce, they could be found guilty of bigamy. Bigamy is being married to more than one person at once. It is a felony in Oklahoma, punishable by one to three years in jail.
Alimony is determined during divorce proceedings. If there are any children of the marriage, child support and child custody will also be decided.
Just because the marriage isn’t traditional doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Since it is recognized by Oklahoma law, ending it requires a legal divorce.
A common law marriage may also end when one spouse dies. In that case, you’ll need to prove that you were in a common law marriage with that person if you want to be eligible to inherit part of their estate.
If you want to prove or disprove a common law marriage, it’s important to remember that these are fact-bound cases. Oklahoma courts will focus on details and claims that can be substantiated. An Oklahoma City family law attorney can help you craft your argument and present it persuasively for you.
Consultation with an Oklahoma City Common Law Marriage Attorney
No matter where you are in your common law marriage or what you hope to accomplish, the attorneys at Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City can advise you. Whether you want to prove or disprove a common law marriage, our attorneys are on your side with their knowledge and expertise. For a consultation, call (405) 888-5400 or fill out the form at the top of the page.