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Understanding Common Law Marriage in MA

Sometimes, weddings and the traditions surrounding them are not a priority for couples. This is especially true for those who lack the social or religious motivations to get married. While domestic partnerships are a great choice for some unmarried couples who wish to have certain benefits enjoyed by married couples, sometimes it isn’t enough for them. So, this leads some long-term couples and domestic partners to investigate common law marriage.

Common law marriage is a concept that treats a couple like they’re married if they have been living together and living like a married couple would for a certain amount of time. For example, some states consider couples as having a common law marriage if they’ve lived together for seven years. A common law marriage does not require a marriage license or formal wedding ceremony.

Common law marriages usually occur when the following happens:

  • A couple agrees they are married
  • A couple lived together for a specific amount of time
  • They identify themselves as married to others

Identifying as a married couple is sometimes referred to as “holding yourself out to be married.” This means telling the community that you’re married, calling each other husband and wife, using the same surname, and filing taxes together.

What Is Common Law Marriage in Massachusetts? 

Some states recognize couples who have lived together for seven years as having a common law marriage. Massachusetts, however, does not recognize common law marriage unless it involves a couple who were considered married by it in another state. In other words, the only way to obtain a common law marriage in Massachusetts is by obtaining one while living outside of the state. No matter how long a couple has lived together, the state of Massachusetts will not provide them with benefits associated with marriage unless they go through the state’s formal process to be married.

States the recognize common law marriage include the following:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

Couples who are interested in common law marriage have two options in the state of Massachusetts: getting married or applying for domestic partnership.

What Qualifies As a Domestic Partner in Massachusetts?

A domestic partnership can be great for those who need to share healthcare coverage, want hospital visitation rights, or need other legal benefits associated with marriage. To be considered domestic partners, you must reside together with mutual support, caring, and commitment, be 18 or over, and consider each other family. You can learn more about domestic partnership by visiting our blog about the subject.

Marriage might be best for couples who plan on leaving the state as domestic partnerships are not usually recognized in all parts of the country. Additionally, married couples tend to enjoy more tax and social security benefits than those who are in a partnership.

Other benefits of marriage include:

  • Pension benefits
  • Easier asset transfers
  • Rights to inheritance
  • Child support
  • Financial support
  • Division of assets during a divorce
  • Sponsorship for immigration

To find out what type of partnership or marriage is right for you, call Miller Law Group, P.C. today at (508) 502-7002. Our family law team is ready to answer your questions and find the right options for you.

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