Massachusetts Legal Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Common Law Marriage in Massachusetts

Common law marriage is when a couple is considered wed in the eyes of the government. But, how does it work and is it legal in Massachusetts? Here’s everything you need to know about common law marriage in Massachusetts.

Common Law Marriage

Marriage is a formal process, requiring a couple to go together to a town or city clerk to fill out a marriage license application no later than 60 days before a wedding ceremony. This process involves the payment of an application fee, as well as verification through government-issued identification that both parties are legally old enough to be wed.

In some states, marriage through common law is also available. Under common law marriage, two people are considered married in the eyes of the law after certain conditions are met. These conditions generally include:

  • Both people are not married to anyone else
  • Both are over the age of 16
  • They must intend to one day marry
  • They must cohabitate for a substantial period

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia currently treat certain couples as married under common law. Massachusetts is not one of those states.

Common Law Marriage in Massachusetts

While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not authorize common law marriage or make it available for couples, it does treat those couples who meet the litmus test for common law marriage in another state with the same rights as if they were married. This treatment is following the “full faith and credit” clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Proving a Common Law Marriage in Massachusetts

While Massachusetts recognizes the validity of out-of-state common law marriages, determining the validity of these marriages can be difficult when it comes to divorce, inheritance, or other issues common amongst married couples.

Since commonwealth judges are likely not familiar with the legal standards of the states where the couple were deemed common law married, parties face an uphill battle in proving the validity of their claims. Necessarily, a party – or their attorney – must teach the presiding family court judge the very laws they are arguing.

Proving the validity of a common law marriage is further hampered by the difficulty in obtaining evidence or witnesses from out-of-state.  

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Family Law Attorney Today

When it comes to Massachusetts divorce law, reaching the best possible outcome for your situation can be tough. This is especially true in the case of common law marriage. No one gets married planning on a divorce, but when it goes in that direction, it’s essential you pursue what is best for you. If you are looking for an experienced divorce attorney, you need to remember that just because someone files for divorce, that doesn’t mean life as you know it is over. Make sure you contact the Shapiro Law Group. Our family law attorneys are versed in all facets of family law, and understand the complexities common law marriages can pose. Pick up the phone and call the dedicated Massachusetts divorce attorneys at Shapiro Law Group at 339-298-2300 today.