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  • Evan Humphreys

Do You Have an Oklahoma Common Law Marriage?

Back in the misty past, a common law marriage used to be the default way to get married. Priests and pastors were hard to come by in rural villages, so people would simply move in together and hold themselves out as married.

Today, that is no longer the norm. The majority of people get married at the courthouse or at a church. In fact, most states no longer recognize the old form of common law marriage. But, Oklahoma is one of the few states that does.

In this post, we will look at the requirements for a common law marriage and debunk some of the misconceptions about this issue. By the time you are finished reading, you should have a good, basic understanding of what a common law marriage is and is not.

Requirements for an Oklahoma Common Law Marriage

In Oklahoma, a common law marriage really only has one requirement: the couple must intend to enter into a common law marriage. Courts can tell when this happens because the couple has held themselves out as married to the community.

How do you hold yourself out as married? Well, the simplest way is to refer to each other as spouses. If you tell your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers that someone is your husband or wife, then you are holding yourself out as married.

But there are also non-verbal ways of holding yourself out as married.

For example, filing taxes as married, filing jointly, is another strong indicator of a common law marriage. Although it does not guarantee that one existed, this kind of evidence will weigh heavily in the minds of many judges.

Another possible piece of evidence is whether the couple lived in the same house and had children together. Again, this does not necessarily mean that a common law marriage was entered into. In the 21st century, it is much more common for unmarried couples to live together and have children. Nevertheless, this can be used to show a common law marriage existed.

Finally, owning property together can demonstrate that the couple intended to enter into a marriage. If they own a home, car, bank account or other property together, that may prove they intended to be married. It especially helps if they used the same last name or if one person hyphenated their surname with their partner’s. Leases, insurance, and debts can also be used in this way.

Things to Know About Oklahoma Common Law Marriages

The biggest mistake people make about common law marriages is believing that they have to live together for a certain number of years before they can have one. Or, they may believe that merely because they lived with someone for a certain period of time, that they automatically have a common law marriage.

While some states may have a requirement like this, Oklahoma is not one of them. Simply living with someone for a number of years is not enough to create a common law marriage. In the same vein, there is no minimum amount of time that you need to live with your partner before a common law marriage is established. Technically speaking, you do not have to live together at all.

Again, the only criteria is whether the couple intended to enter into a marital relationship and held themselves out as married. A couple could live together for 50 years and never be married. Or. they could live together for just a few years and create a common law marriage.

Whether a court believes that two people intended to be married will depend heavily on the facts. Unless the spouses agree that they were married, a judge will have to decide the issue by looking at the factors and types of evidence discussed above. The burden will be on the person who says there was a common law marriage to prove their case clearly and convincingly.

Knowing whether you have a common law marriage is incredibly important if you split from your partner. Because while there might be common law marriages, there is no such thing as a common law divorce. So, if you are married, you will probably need to get a lawyer involved. It may entitle you to a share of your ex's property or to an award of alimony. A common law marriage can also have important consequences in inheritance cases.

If you want to know whether your relationship qualifies as a common law marriage, get in touch with an experienced and dedicated family law attorney. Contact the Law Office of Evan Humphreys today.

The content of this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be taken as legal advice.

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