Does Utah Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Does Utah Recognize Common Law Marriage?
05 Dec 2016

Utah does recognize Common Law Marriage but it is under a set of specific circumstances that is hard to prove. When it comes to common law marriage, the process of getting a divorce isn’t too different from a regular divorce; there’s no such thing as “common law divorce.” In fact, the main difference in the divorce process is that you first have to prove that a common law marriage existed. There are a few ways to do this (you all these elements to show common law marriage existed):

  1. Are of legal age and capable of consent;
  2. Are legally capable of entering a solemnized marriage under the provisions of this chapter;
  3. Have cohabitated;
  4. Mutually assume marital rights, duties and obligations; and
  5. Have held themselves out as and have acquired a uniform and general reputation as husband and
  6. The determination or establishment of a marriage shall occur during the relationship described above within one year following the termination of that relationship

One common myth is that a common law marriage takes place automatically if a couple has been living together for a certain amount of time. This isn’t true. There is no specific time a couple must live together.

So why would a person want to prove a common law marriage existed in the first place? Being married (including being in a legally recognized common law marriage) provides people certain legal rights, but many don’t even come up or become important until the two parties decide to split up. If there are disputes between the parties as to debts, assets, real estate or other property, alimony, or custody, the court would only be able to work to equitably divide these up if the marriage was legally recognized.

One important rule to note, which is specific to Utah, is that in a common law marriage, a party must petition the court to recognize that a marriage existed during the relationship within one year following the relationship’s end. If the parties wait too long, the claim that a common law marriage existed can be denied by the court, which would then make divorce, or other legal claims that would rely upon the granting of a common law marriage, almost impossible.

Navigating a divorce, even in a common law marriage, can be complicated. You need to ensure you consult with a competent family law attorney that understands the issues and case law of common law marriage during a divorce. At CoilLaw, LLC, Salt Lake City Divorce attorney Jill Coil knows how to advise you during a divorce to help you achieve the best settlement and/or result possible. At CoilLaw we are ready and available to help you through your legal action. If you need legal advice concerning a Utah family law issue, call Jill Coil at CoilLaw LLC in Utah at (801) 939-6027 today.

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