Afsana Chowdhury | January 31, 2024 | Virginia Law
Many people have heard of the term common law marriage, but does Virginia recognize this? What is common law marriage, and how can it affect your case? A knowledgeable lawyer from The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC can evaluate your situation and explain your legal rights and options.
Until then, continue reading this blog post to learn more about common law marriage, including Virginia’s stance on the matter.
What Is Common Law Marriage?
Common law marriage is a legally recognized form of marriage that occurs even when there is not a formal marriage ceremony. The law recognizes that when two people live together as spouses and represent themselves as such, they should have the same legal status as those who obtained a marriage license.
Some states recognize a common law marriage after a couple has lived together for a certain amount of time. Others require that the couple hold themselves to the public as spouses or meet some other criteria. Common law marriage is not recognized in all states.
What Difference Does Common Law Marriage Make?
There are numerous benefits to getting married. There can also be benefits to getting divorced. When a couple who is not married separates, the courts may not be involved in the situation. When they divorce, they have the right to have their property equitably distributed by the court.
Spouses may also have a right to receive spousal support. Married spouses who are divorcing may also have equal rights to child custody, while those without the benefit of marriage may not.
How Are Common Law Marriages Ended?
When a couple in a common law marriage separates, one of the partners may want to have their relationship validated by a court to receive the benefits of a divorce. This often requires them to take legal action to first have their marriage legally recognized and then go through the traditional process of divorce.
If the spouses agree on the material matters of their separation, an uncontested divorce might be possible. However, if the couple disagrees about these terms or even whether they are validly married, a contested divorce may be necessary.
Virginia Law on Common Law Marriage
In Virginia, it is necessary to obtain a marriage license before a wedding ceremony is performed. The ceremony must be held within 60 days of obtaining the license.
Virginia does not recognize common law marriage or that two adults assume duties or obligations toward each other by living together unless they enter into some type of formal agreement.
If they do have some type of agreement, financial matters can be referred to the court, and the rights of the parties can be determined. For example, Virginia courts could determine how to divide your jointly owned property if you have a contract regarding that or whether you are still subject to a lease after a breakup.
However, Virginia does sometimes recognize valid common law marriages that were entered into in other states if the legal requirements for the former state were met by the parties.
Therefore, if you believe you were in a valid common law marriage in another state and then moved to Virginia, your common law marriage can potentially be recognized, and a Virginia court may be able to divorce you.
Contact a Knowledgeable Virginia Family Lawyer
If you lived in another state when you entered into a common law marriage and would like to know how this could affect your case, reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer for help. A family law attorney from The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC can evaluate your specific situation and advise you of your rights during a consultation.
Contact The Divorce Law Firm of Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC in Fairfax, VA.
We proudly serve Fairfax, VA, and its surrounding areas