Whether for love or convenience, people get married for many different reasons. Most often, the act of getting married means obtaining a marriage license and having a ceremony where two parties exchange wedding vows before friends and family. Sometimes it may be a simple ceremony before a judge, justice of the peace or clergyman. In Oklahoma, however, none of this is necessary in order to enjoy the rights and privileges of being married. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that recognize common law marriages.
In Oklahoma, you can enjoy all of the rights and privileges of marriage without having to go through any of the traditional formalities, if your relationship and living arrangements meet the following requirements:
- You must present yourselves publicly as a married couple.
- You must be legally eligible to be married, which means you must be old enough to marry legally and not already married.
- You must mutually agree to be married.
- You must live together as man and wife for a specified length of time. Although recent case law suggests that this is not as important as once thought, living together for an extended period of time can be used to demonstrate that you intend to be in a married relationship.
To demonstrate the requirements above, the following evidence may be used:
- Filing joint tax returns.
- Using the same last name.
- Joint ownership of assets and liabilities.
- The testimony of others.
- Designating each other as the beneficiaries of life insurance policies.
If you can demonstrate, in a clear and convincing manner, that your relationship meets all of the requirements for a common law marriage, you may be considered legally married in the eyes of the law and enjoy all of the rights and privileges that are enjoyed by traditionally married couples. These rights and privileges include:
- The division of property in divorce.
- The right to be considered your spouse’s next of kin.
- The right to inherit your spouse’s estate.
- The right to any benefits and assets that belong to your spouse’s survivors upon his or her death, such as life insurance and Social Security benefits.
- The right to file joint tax returns.
Likewise, a common law marriage in Oklahoma will be subject to the same rules and restrictions as a traditional marriage. For example, you can only be married to one person at a time and if you no longer want to be married you will have to go through the formal process of obtaining a legal divorce. This process entails dividing your property, deciding who gets custody of your children and determining the amount of spousal and child support to be paid.
For more information on common law marriages in Oklahoma, consult with an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney, who can let you know if and how your marriage can qualify as a common law marriage in Oklahoma.
Confidential Consultation: Claremore Family Law Attorney
When there’s so much at stake, it’s crucial that you discover all your options by talking to a skilled Claremore family law attorney at Wirth Law Office – Claremore. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable Claremore family law attorney, call (918) 213-0950 today. If you prefer e-mail, send the Claremore attorney your question by using the form at the right side of this page.