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Court disagrees with claim that couple had a common law marriage

Cohabitation and common law marriages have become more common in Columbus in recent years. Those participating in such relationships may believe that they do not need any formal record or documentation to prove their commitment to their partners. While they certainly may be within their rights to carry on such relationships, by doing so they may be forfeiting several of the protections that people who are married may enjoy should the relationship end. 

A Pennsylvania woman is currently learning this lesson the hard way as she attempts to secure alimony benefits from the man she identifies as her common law husband. She pointed out to court officials that the couple claimed that they were married on a recent tax return, and that the man listed her as his spouse when he was applying for health insurance.  

Those hearing her case at the county and state level, however, disagreed. Even though the couple entered into their relationship prior to common law marriages becoming legally invalid in the state, they never entered into the oral contract that was needed in order for the state legally recognize them as husband and wife. 

No one should feel compelled to get married if they do not want to, and the opportunity to collect alimony or child support in the event of a divorce may not be sufficient enough of a reason to wed. However, at the same time, in situations like the one described above (the man reportedly asked the woman to marry him several times while they were together), those who were never given the chance to marry may believe they should not be treated as though they were if the relationship ends. Those looking to make such an argument might do well to consider working with an experienced family law attorney. 

Source: "'She's not my wife,' man says, and Pa. court agrees," Matt Miller, Nov. 8, 2017


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