So you've been together for a long time. It's time to consider yourselves common-law married, a type of "marriage-like" status that kicks in after seven years of living together. Common-law marriages were once the majority marriage style in America. But now that same-sex couples can marry, they're only recognized by a few states. The rest of the country considers common-law marriage to be illegal and void.
In common-law marriages, your relationship is not considered real or official until you sign a marriage license and have it certified by a judge. At this point, you have the rights and responsibilities of husband and wife. Your marriage contract is then replaced with a new one for each new relationship you enter into. This means if you get divorced, your previous common-law marriage is canceled out.
You should know that even though common-law marriages are not recognized by law, many companies still offer benefits to their employees' spouses. So if you want to be sure you're on the same page as far as insurance policies and financial matters are concerned, it's best to declare your status openly. Otherwise, you might be surprised by something your partner wants to do later!
It's also important to remember that even if you live in the same house together, you are not married.
A prevalent misconception is that living with someone for seven years automatically results in a common-law marriage. This is not correct; a marriage happens when a couple lives together for a set period of time (usually one year), presents themselves as a married couple, and desires to marry. Living together does not make a marriage any more than going on vacation together makes a marriage.
In order for there to be a valid marriage contract between two people, they must be able to communicate their intention to become husband and wife. During courtship, the man and woman usually discuss what kind of marriage they would like to have. If they decide that they want a religious marriage, then someone has to be able to perform this ceremony. If they cannot afford an official wedding ceremony, then they can sign a marriage license and have this certified by a notary public or other authorized officer. As long as there is no one who can legally perform a marriage ceremony between them except for a pastor or priest of a church where they attend services, then they are not legally married.
In some states, it is required that you are 18 years old to marry. Some states also require that you be a resident for a certain amount of time (usually six months) before you can get married. Other states allow anyone over the age of 17 to marry as long as at least one of them is not a felon.
How long do you have to be together before you may be common-law married? There is no time limit on how long a couple must live together before they are declared common-law married. For example, if a couple agrees to be married and presents themselves as such for one day, they are deemed common-law wedded. However, there is no specific number of years that must pass before this declaration of marriage becomes legal.
Common-law marriages are valid in all states except Nebraska, where they were previously invalid. All other states either recognize common-law marriages or allow them under certain conditions. The fact that common-law marriages were once illegal in most states has led many people to believe they cannot be validly performed by any kind of official authority. This is not true. Common-law marriages can be legally recognized without changing the nature of the relationship; they can be remarried after a divorce, for example.
The exact requirements of what constitutes common-law marriage vary from state to state. In general, however, the couple must manifest an intent to take each other for better or worse until one of them dies. They must live together in order to satisfy the requirement that the relationship be legitimate and lawful. If one party is already married when they enter into this arrangement, they must terminate their existing marriage to be able to be part of the common-law partnership.
It is usually assumed that if a couple lives together for at least seven years and presents themselves to the world as a married pair, they will be recognized legally married. However, there are no legal requirements for this marriage to be recognized by any state. Each state has its own laws regarding marriage, so it's up to each one of them whether or not to accept these marriages.
The first thing you need to know about how long you have to live together to be considered a married couple is that every state defines marriage differently. Some states require only a symbolic gesture to constitute a marriage, while others require a wedding ceremony plus some kind of official declaration before couples can be deemed married.
In general, if you and your partner live together and hold yourselves out as a married couple, then you're considered married. However, this isn't enough to be recognized by all states. You must be married by law in order to be eligible for certain benefits such as health insurance or inheritance rights. If you want your relationship to be recognized by the government, you should file for a marriage license. The required amount of time varies from state to state, but generally, you'll need to live together for at least three months in a jurisdiction where it's necessary to marry in order to be considered married.