Massachusetts does not recognize common law marriage—unless you were married under common law in another state. If you and your partner lived in a state that recognized common law marriage and you met the requirements to achieve this status, your marriage should be recognized in Massachusetts. This applies under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, wherein one state recognizes the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of another state.
Here, we will consider how to prove common law marriage in Massachusetts.
Why Common Law Marriage?
Common law marriage offers couples who are committed but do not wish to marry an option to still enjoy the legal and financial benefits of a traditional marriage. For personal, social, or religious regions, these couples may not wish to marry in the conventional sense, but they are living together and present themselves as husband and wife in many other ways.
Providing Proof of a Common Law Marriage
Because Massachusetts does not provide for common law marriage, couples will need to prove they have achieved this status in another state in order to qualify. The specific requirements to establish a common law marriage will vary from state to state. Generally speaking, you’ll need to follow the requirements in the state wherein your common law marriage was recognized. If you lived in Texas, for example, you’d follow that state’s requirements.
The following are examples of documentation that may help prove a common law marriage:
- Bank statements showing joint ownership of one or more accounts
- Deeds to jointly owned property, including real estate, motor vehicles, etc.
- Insurance policies naming the other party as beneficiary
- Birth certificates and school records naming both parties as parents
- Employment records listing the other party as a spouse or partner
- Credit card statements, loan documents, mortgages, and other documents showing that both parties share financial obligations
- An affidavit stating the nature of your relationship, whether you had a ceremony of any kind, and when/where you agreed to become spouses under common law
- Affidavits from friends and family members indicating knowledge of your relationship, where you lived, and if you were viewed as married by friends, neighbors, etc.
Other Options for Massachusetts Couples
Although couples living in Massachusetts can't be married under common law, the commonwealth does allow for domestic partnerships. This is another way for couples to experience the benefits of marriage without going through it in the legal and traditional sense. To find out more about proving common law marriage, establishing a domestic partnership, or any other area of family law, do not hesitate to reach out to our team at Miller Law Group, P.C.. We believe in using our legal knowledge, resources, and experience to help people establish stable and bright futures. Call (508) 502-7002 today!