What is common law marriage?

Posted January 10th, 2014 by .

Categories: Family Law.

You may have heard the phrase “common law marriage” before. But what exactly is it? Is it legal? And what happens if the couple breaks up?

First an explanation: Common law marriage means a couple is recognized as married, even though there is no legal ceremony. There is no legal contract between a husband and a wife but they can have their relationship recorded in the public record of a government entity. And the same rules apply to a common law marriage as they do to a legal marriage – each party must be unmarried and sound of mind.

In New Jersey, although it recognizes common law marriages from other states, it is not permitted in our state. In order to be considered a married couple, you must have legal documentation. However, unlike other states, New Jersey doesn’t require a couple to acquire marital rights by living together for a specific amount of time. This means, if a couple who has spent a large amount of time together decides to break up, they can do so without dealing with the legal system. However, if you have been living with your significant other for 20 years, and that person dies, whether you are not automatically entitled to the person’s life insurance.

It’s a very tricky situation. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Jersey City family law attorney Anthony Carbone. We’ll help you with any issues you have. For more information on any family law matters, click here.

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