Common law marriage can be a confusing and slippery topic. There is a sea of misinformation out there about it. Many wonder when a common-law marriage begins and when it ends. That is not always easy to determine since this type of marriage is based on informal characteristics.
What is Common Law Marriage?
Marriages of this nature are not registered as a religious or civil marriage but are considered a marriage nonetheless. In the past, couples had to meet criteria such as a certain length of living together, proof of relationship, sharing the same last name and bank account. Soon this will no longer be the case.
End of Common Law Marriage in Alabama
An article on Al.com communicated that the State of Alabama recently passed a law which will spell the end of common law marriage. This came after the recent allowance of same-sex marriages in the state. The Alabama government had become concerned about the increasingly blurred line of what constitutes a legal marriage and what doesn't. There now are only eight states remaining that still recognize common law marriage.
One of the major challenges with this type of marriage was that there was no way to officially end this "unofficial" relationship. There literally was no such thing as a common law divorce. This led to couples who became informally married by certain habits unable to be considered unmarried on the same terms that the marriage had been founded. For instance, separation and other factors did not constitute an end to their marriage. The Alabama government did not see a practical reason to continue such a potential contradiction. All governments prefer cut and dry ways of defining terms including matters pertaining to marriage.
Ending a Common Law Marriage
After January 2017, common law marriage will no longer be an option for those who want to become married in the state of Alabama. There are some important things to remember about the information that has been shared, though. This does not mean that all common law marriages will be annulled across the board. Marriages begun before January of 2017 will still be valid.
Are you currently involved in a common law marriage and want to get a divorce? The most important thing that you can do to protect your interests is to speak with an experienced attorney.