If a person has been involved in a serious relationship for a long period of time, they may want to know if they have a legal marriage. It is possible these two people in Utah believe they are involved in a common-law marriage. The couple may want the same legal rights as traditional marriage. It can happen if approved by a court.
Benefits of Establishing A Marriage
Couples who have their relationship recognized as a marriage enjoy a number of benefits. This includes everything from tax breaks to spousal privilege rights, inheritance, Social Security benefits, survivor rights and more. These benefits can also provide protection if the couple’s relationship ends in divorce. It can include fair property settlements, attorney fee contributions, alimony, being awarded a portion of a partner’s retirement benefits as well as pension and more.
There is a difference between a common law marriage and a traditional marriage. When a couple is in a traditional marriage, they have applied for a marriage license. They have also engaged in some type of wedding ceremony. It could be officiated by a religious leader, judge or another qualified individual. Once a couple does this, they are legally married and are entitled to all the marital benefits provided by the federal and state governments.
When a couple has lived together in Utah for a long time and treat one another as spouses, they can make a request to a court for their relationship to be recognized as a marriage. The couple will be required to file a written formal request with a court. This is known as a petition. It must be filed with a court early during a relationship or within twelve months after it is terminated. Should a judge grant this request, the couple’s relationship will be legally recognized as a marriage. It is also possible to have this type of marriage backdated to the time the relationship started.
The process of being granted a marriage by petition can be started by either partner. The one who files the paperwork will have to provide evidence, as well as witnesses, to support their marriage request. There are certain things that must be provided.
- Marriage Appearance – It must be established the partners publicly presented themselves as a married couple during their relationship. They should have given the appearance of being married in public and to others around them. Others must have believed the couple was married.
- Legal Age – Both of the partners must be of legal age to provide consent for marriage.
- Treated as Marriage – It must be established the partners treated one another as if their relationship was a marriage.
- Lived Together – The couple must have lived together for an extended time.
- Capable – Each of the partners must be legally capable of entering into a marriage.
It is essential that both partners involved in the relationship believe their union is the same as a marriage. This is referred to as consent. The person who files the petition with the court will be required to prove that consent exists within the relationship. There are some ways this can be accomplished.
- Documents that support the claim of a relationship. This could involve deeds, power of attorney, a will and more.
- There could be a written agreement between both partners in the relationship.
- Copies of joint tax returns.
- Written or oral testimony from other individuals who were present when the partners believed themselves to be a married couple.
- Documentation of joint credit accounts as well as bank accounts.
- Documentation of the partners jointly buying and owning property together.
Out of State
If a couple’s relationship is recognized in Utah as a common law marriage, there are certain things they must do to have it recognized in other states. This often becomes an issue in the case of legal separation or divorce. The courts in the other states will consider several factors.
- A court may ask if there were any power of attorney documents in place between the couple before their cohabitation.
- It may need to be proven the partners actually cohabited in another state to establish the validity of their relationship.
- A court may request the partners prove the date of their common law marriage in Utah.
- An out-of-state court may require the partners meet its requirements for a legal marriage.
It is possible for a couple to provide all the evidence and testimony required by an out-of-state court and still not have their marriage recognized. Some states have laws saying it will not recognize any marriages other than a traditional marriage. Prior to moving to another state, a couple may want to know how it views non-traditional marriages.
Many couples want their relationship recognized as a marriage without going through the marriage process. This is done for many reasons. It can be done through the court system. A couple considering this may want to speak with an experienced attorney. They will know what is required, how things should be presented to a court and more.