Oklahoma Family Law: Am I Common Law Married

by Zach Waxman on April 2, 2013

Common Law Marriage in Oklahoma and Family Law In Tulsa Oklahoma

Oklahoma is one of the eight states in the United States of America that still recognizes common law marriage.  What does it take to be considered married under common law?  In Oklahoma, you have to establish the following:

1. The couple agrees to be husband and wife.

2. The couple is in a permanent and exclusive relationship.

4. The couple lives together as husband and wife.

5. The couple publicly considers themselves to be husband and wife.

Each of these elements must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.  If even one element is not proven, then there is no common law marriage.  Evidence that demonstrate and supports common law marriage can include, but is no way limited to: joint income tax returns, joint financial accounts, jointly held assets, joint credit, joint debt, medical records, how the couple was introduced to third parties, and many other sources.

How does common law marriage differ from statutory marriage?  In a common law marriage there is no marriage license issued by a government and no marriage certificate filed with a government.  Often times there is also no formal ceremony to solemnize the marriage before witnesses

Just because a couple lives together and are in an exclusive and permanent relationship, does not mean the couple will be considered married.  We always ask about common law marriage when talking to potential paternity clients because if the parties have been in a long enough relationship, have filed taxes together, they could be considered husband and wife in the court.  This has two potential results on a paternity case:

  1. It makes it easier to establish legal paternity and therefore set out custody and visitation; and

  2. Often times couples who live together often have joint property.  If the parties are common law married, then filing divorce is appropriate so that this property can be distributed.  If not, the parties will have to seek return or division of joint property through separate law suit.

It is very important to remember, that while common law marriage exists in Oklahoma, there is no such thing as a common law divorce.  Couples who hold themselves out to be husband and wife, will have to file a divorce is they choose to separate.

The issue of common law marriage also arises when talking about probate, wills and inheritance.  Spouses, whether from a statutory or a common law marriage, have certain rights in terms of remaining in the home and getting a percentage of the deceased’s estate.  It is extremely important to contact a Tulsa Oklahoma attorney if your common law spouse dies to know your rights and how to proceed.

For a no cost and confidential legal consultation regarding common law marriage and divorce in Tulsa Oklahoma call our Tulsa Family Lawyers today at 918-742-3555 or send one of our Tulsa Family Attorneys an email today

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