What Is A Common Law Marriage And Why Does It Matter?

What Is A Common Law Marriage And Why Does It Matter?

Common-law marriage exists when two people reside together and refer to each other as husband and wife but have not obtained a marriage certificate or completed a formal wedding ceremony. Some states recognize this as a legal union, allowing for tax benefits, health insurance benefits, and the ability to assume Power of Attorney to assist with medical decisions for the spouse as needed, for example. A formal ceremony and marriage may not be necessary for a couple or suit their lifestyle. With common law marriages, they can still benefit from a legal union, as recognized in some states.

Does Massachusetts Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Several states recognize common-law marriage, but Massachusetts isn’t one of them. Massachusetts does, however, recognize the legal unions of those that obtained common-law marriages in other states as long as the legal requirements of those states have been met. In other words, the only way to create a recognizable common-law marriage in Massachusetts is to have obtained one in another state before moving to Massachusetts.

How Can I Ensure I’m Receiving the Same Benefits with My Partner as Those of a Married Couple?

If you don’t currently have a recognized common-law marriage from another state, you can choose to marry or apply for a domestic partnership. A domestic partnership may address shared medical coverage or hospital visitation rights. A legal marriage, however, opens the door to many more possible benefits such as child support, pension benefits, financial support, transfer of assets upon death, rights to inheritance, and others. At O’Connor Family Law, we have assisted many couples in obtaining benefits to their union in ways that worked for them so that as needs and situations arose, they could rest easy, knowing that the benefits they wanted to receive were now an option.

How Can O’Connor Family Law Support Me in My Common-Law Marriage Questions?

As an experienced family law firm, we have helped multiple couples in the past determine what benefits they needed to determine the next steps. You can discuss with us what your priorities are as a couple and how those may change with age, and we can help you visualize benefits you may not have thought of yet that you may want access to. We can also help determine whether your common-law marriage from another state is recognized here and discuss whether a domestic partnership or a legal marriage is the best route to take.

Contact us today at (774) 315-4220.

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