By Amy R. Stern, Esquire
You are considered married in PA if you lived with someone for at least 7 years, right?
No. Actually, common law marriage was abolished in PA as of January 1, 2005. Anyone who entered into a valid common law marriage prior to that time will still be considered married. However, the rules for establishing a valid common law marriage are often misunderstood.
In PA, in order to be considered common law married, a couple has to establish that prior to 2005 they exchanged words in the present tense consenting to enter into a marriage. This means that they uttered words intending to be married, orally exchanging vows.
Often this issue is argued in divorce court where one party is alleging the couple was validly common law married and the other is claiming there was no marriage. This could be significant in whether someone receives a portion of the other’s assets and/or alimony.
It may also come up when a partner dies and the other is claiming rights to the estate.
There are many popular misconceptions surrounding common law marriage in PA. If you or someone you know is under the impression they are in a common law marriage, they should seek legal advice in order to protect themselves and their assets.
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The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.