Common law marriages are an alternative to traditional marriage. There is no license, no ceremony and no wedding. Basically, two people decide to live together and, after a certain amount of time set out by their state or province, file taxes as spouses and live as a married couple.
For instance, a couple must live together for two years before becoming common-law in British Columbia. Simply living together doesn’t cut it. You won’t someday magically show up as “married” in some government computer!
Similarly, once legally declared a common law couple, you will have to go through formal divorce proceedings if your marriage ends. Spouses can still be held liable for any alimony and child support.
Additionally, you may or may not have to divide any and all assets. As stated earlier, different provinces, states and countries have different laws. It’s best to contact a government office in your area to get the details pertinent to your geographical situation.
Thinking ahead is always important before any major commitment. Before entering into a common law marriage, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Why are you choosing a common-law situation over a traditional married state? If you want to get married but your partner refuses to propose, becoming a common-law couple won’t solve the problem. Your partner might have issues with commitment or maybe he just isn't ready to commit. Face up now, or realize it later.
2. Are you aware of any and all legal ramifications to this decision? What can you be held liable for in your area? How will the dissolution of this union affect you finacially? Inform yourself about the legalities and know your rights.
3. Will you regret not having a wedding? Yes, a wedding can be stressful and expensive, BUT it is one of the most magical human experiences possible. Can you give up that day forever without ever feeling any regrets?
If you’ve answered these questions and feel comfortable with your decision, go ahead! Relationships evolve differently and, if it works for you and you’re happy, go ahead and enjoy every minute. xoxo