Proving the reality of a common law marriage can be difficult yet important when legal issues arise. For instance, if you and your common law spouse are divorcing, you have to prove that your marriage was legal. But without the legal procedure of a civil marriage, providing proof can be more difficult than you realize.
When Do You Have to Prove Your Marriage?
In addition to proving the existence of a common law marriage when you are divorcing, there are other situations in which it might become necessary. If there is a question of whether you are entitled to inherited property or insurance benefits, proof of a relationship is needed.
You could also need proof if your spouse is denying that the marriage existed. If you are seeking financial support following a split, proof could become a major issue.
In some states, how long you and your spouse were together is also important. Different states have different requirements for how long you must have lived together to be considered part of a common law marriage.
What Can You Use for Evidence?
If your spouse has committed in writing in the past that the marriage was legit, you can present that as evidence. It is important that the agreement have the date listed to help with establishing that your relationship met length of time requirements.
If you do not have a written agreement with your spouse, you could also use an affidavit signed by your spouse. The affidavit is sometimes required by insurance companies and other businesses for legal purposes. If he or she ever signed one, you can use it as evidence even if your spouse is denying the relationship.
Documents such as joint bank account statements, purchase agreements for property with both of your names listed, and joint tax returns can also help prove your case.
Some states allow the submission of witness statements as proof. The more people you have that will agree to provide testimony that you and your spouse presented yourselves as a couple will help build your case. Your attorney can help you determine if there are other forms of evidence that can prove the marriage was real.
Challenges to the existence of a common law marriage are not uncommon. If you are faced with having to prove that yours met all of the state's legal requirements, confer with an attorney, like Levine & Company, as soon as you can.