A common law marriage is a legal marriage in Oklahoma, and as such, if involved in a common law marriage in Muskogee, you will need to go through the divorce process.
Common law marriages often arise when cohabiting couples stay together for years and hold themselves out as a “married” couple. This almost always starts out as a casual relationship that morphs into something much more serious over time, but without the benefit of all the usual legal steps of the typical marriage.
And when a couple comes together in a casual way, all too often the ending of the relationship is also handled in a casual way. But if the relationship rises to the level of a common law marriage, legal steps must be taken to end the union.
Failure to do so can cause all sorts of problems for the parties involved, including claims of bigamy or adultery later.
When Do Issues of Common Law Marriage Arise
Concerns about common law marriage in Oklahoma may arise when one party wants to remarry, or when a partner dies. In both of these situations, it is usually one party to the common law marriage who makes the assertion that a legal union exists, and so either the other spouse is not free to marry or the party is seeking to take an inheritance from the other.
Courts look to a number of factors to determine if a common law marriage exists. Most of these factors relate to the couple’s intent and how they have held themselves out to the community over time. A court may look to:
- Whether both parties had the legal capacity to be married.
- The couple’s stated intentions regarding their status and their intentions. Did they intend for the relationship to be permanent?
- The couple’s actions. Did they hold themselves out to the community as married? Did they act as if they were married? This could include such things as how they refer to each other, buying property together, commingling finances, and the like.
A common law marriage is a contract. These cases are very fact-bound, and even small facts may be important in a determination as to whether a legal marriage exists.
Ramifications of Not Getting a Legal Divorce
A partner seeking to remarry after a common law marriage may be guilty of bigamy if there is no formal dissolution. If that happens, the new marriage is invalidated until such time as the common law marriage can be dissolved.
Any children involved in the union could make paternity an issue. The male partner could be determined to be the presumptive father of any children of the union. Child custody and support may become an issue in that case.
Without a formal dissolution, both partners continue to be financially entangled. That means that one spouse could make a claim for marital property against the other spouse long after the couple has ceased cohabiting. Or, one spouse may be legally on the hook for a debt incurred by the other spouse after they have stopped living together.
Finally, a common law spouse may have a claim to a deceased partner’s estate long after the emotional relationship has ended.
If you have questions or concerns regarding a current or an old relationship in this regard, get the help of an experienced Muskogee divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Confidential Consultation: Muskogee Divorce Attorney
If you’re considering all of your options at the moment and need to know how best to handle the issues you will face, call an experienced Muskogee divorce attorney today at (918) 913-0725, or toll-free at 1 (888) 447-7262 (Wirth Law).
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