“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale, it is a choice,” said Fawn WeaverLove is like magic that can happen to anyone, anywhere. There is no time or date to love a person. Most couples in the world are cohabitating couples. Few countries have made common-law marriage legal and in other countries, it has been recognized as illegal. Common law marriage is a law that applies to every couple in some countries.
Before going to any other state or foreign country, let’s focus on California. does California have a common-law marriage? Couples who are in love prefer to live together before marrying. Some couples do not choose to have a traditional marriage and remain in cohabitating relationships.
In a live-in relationship, two partners get to be with for more time with each other and think about the future. It’s your choice to think about getting married or not. However, governments in many countries don’t allow people to be in cohabitating relationships. Either that couple has to get married or just part ways.
1. What is Common Law Marriage?
Common law marriage means a couple does not have a formal marriage or a valid marriage certificate. In common law marriage, they don’t have an official wedding. A couple of states have allowed common-law marriage, and couples there get the same rights that are given to married partners.
Showing yourself in a common-law marriage when you are in a live-in relationship or cohabitation is difficult.
When both couples do not prefer to get married, they can apply for common law marriage, which is legally recognized. Both partners, when they act as married and tell their friends and family that they are married, can also be considered for common law marriage. In common law, couples don’t get the maternal or paternal rights of their children. To get parental rights, they have to run some tests.
2. Does California Have a Common Law Marriage?
The government of California does not recognize common-law marriage as legal. So, if common law marriage is not sensible, the couple won’t be identified as married. Regardless of the number of years that they have spent in California. The state considers couples under common law marriage in any other state to be married.
For example, if you and your partner shift to California under common law marriage, you both will be recognized as married.
Now California has introduced the idea of domestic partnership. Unmarried couples will get similar legal rights as married ones if they apply for this. But still, the law has not been recognized by the federal government. It will take time to give you and your partner community property rights and benefits.
3. Rights of Unmarried Couples in California Common Law Marriage
All the couples in this world are not interested in legal marriage. Whether couples are from California or other states, it doesn’t matter. Marriage is their choice. There are some rights that unmarried couples must be aware of if they are in California.
3.1. Financial Matters for Unmarried Couples
An unmarried couple in California cannot keep joint bank accounts, savings accounts, or investments. The cohabitating couple is considered two individuals who are different when it comes to financial matters. If the couple gets separated, then either of them will not get alimony. If they have joint accounts, then they will be legally separated. One of the partners will be liable to pay child support.
3.2. Custody of Children
In the case of the cohabitating couple, if they have children and are getting separated, they have rules to follow for custody. A cohabitating couple is different from a married couple when it comes to child custody.
Both unmarried couples have equal rights when it comes to children. The child has to get child support and an inheritance. To prove paternity, a written contract or medical test has to be done.
3.3. Property Matters of Unmarried Couples
If the cohabitating couple has some property in their name, then it will be divided when they are separated. If only one of them has a property in his or her name and the other one has paid for the property. Then she or he who paid for the property has to take it legally. Later, the family court will decide about ownership.
4. How does California Recognize Common Law Marriage?
There are some requirements that an unmarried couple has to meet to prove that they have a common law marriage. After completing the requirements, the cohabitating couple can shift to California and be declared married.
Let us see the requirements one by one to recognize common-law marriage.
4.1. States that Allow Common-Law Marriage
This section will help you if you and your partner are from these states. Certificates of common-law marriage from other states are accepted in California. All these states have different laws for common-law marriage. Few states have withdrawn from common-law marriage.
Now, let us see the states. Below are a few states as of 2023:
- District of Columbia
- South Carolina
4.2. Requirements of Common Law Marriage in Other States
Here are some common requirements from the above states for common-law marriage: Only if you and your partner meet the requirement will the state of California declare you both legally married.
- Couples lived together for a long time.
- Couples who are in a live-in relationship are permitted to legally marry.
- Both couples should have the intention of getting married.
- Couples refer to them as legally married around people.
- Adopting or raising children together
5. What makes Common- Law Marriage Matter in California?
As California doesn’t recognize common law marriage yet, it is necessary to inform cohabiting couples about their rights. Couples who shift from other states under common law marriage don’t know much about their rights.
Once the unmarried couple shifts to California, they are recognized as married legally. Unmarried couples are given the rights of married couples like two peas in a pod. If they are getting divorced, then they will have some rights that they have to follow. One partner will get custody of their children, child support, an allowance, property division, financial support, etc.
6. Is Common Law Same as Domestic Partnerships?
California has given unmarried couples the chance to have the same privileges as married ones. They introduced domestic partnerships to provide rights to cohabiting couples. In this law, couples get the law, which is usually given to married people. The unmarried couple usually gets the advantage of the health insurance coverage and benefits of a partner.
A domestic partnership doesn’t force you to marry. It is the best concept to apply if you and your partner want to stay as a cohabiting couple. You just need to register yourself. You won’t get all the married laws, but you will receive marital rights. Rights are:
- Joint taxes in California
- Right in adoption
- Paternity rights
- Leaves for funerals and family matters
- Rights to visit hospitals
- Bequest rights
7. Rights that Come Under Domestic Partnerships Law
Here are some legal rights that are given to unmarried parents who have applied for domestic partnerships: This law doesn’t give the same legal benefits that common-law marriages provide in a few states. A marriage license is not needed for domestic partnerships. They just have to sign a written agreement to be regarded as ethically married.
7.1. Rights in Matters of Property Rights
In California, couples who are married and couples who come under a domestic partnership have joint control over the property. Unmarried couples don’t get control over property. Either they have to create a joint proprietorship or put their names on it. Unmarried partners can have joint community property.
7.2. Sharing Finances
The surviving partner will not be able to claim any credit cards, bank accounts, or any other kind of account of the dead partner. The unmarried couple must have control over any financial accounts by creating joint accounts and having joint credit cards.
Usually, divorced couples who were in long-term marriages get high spousal support and financial support; they may also receive social security advantages and retirement benefits.
7.3. Parental Rights
In the case of the cohabitating couple, if they have children and get separated, they have rules to follow for custody. A cohabitating couple is different from a married couple when it comes to child custody. The family court decided that one parent should pay child support.
8. Where Did Common Law Marriage Come From?
Common law marriage emerged in the Colonial days. Common law marriage was seen as being practiced first in the United States of America. The colonies in America were still under England’s rule.
Though Acts of Parliament weren’t under England’s rule until and unless colonies were mentioned by name. Great Britain introduced the Clandestine Marriage Act of 1753. This act ended common law marriages, and people in England and Wales had to get married.
This act was not applied to colonists in America, and still today, common law marriage exists.
9. How to Discover If Common-Law Marriage Exists
Some factors determine common-law marriage. Several factors recognize common law marriage, including:
- Do you have a marriage certificate?
- Have you both ever applied for a marriage license?
- Have you both lived together?
- Do your loved ones know you both are married?
- Are you using your partner’s surname?
- Are you considering yourself a spouse or partner?
- Do you both share household duties?
- Do you have children?
- Are you both sharing any expenses?
- Any one of you help pay for child support?
- Have you both signed a contract to buy a car, property, etc.?
- Do you have joint accounts?
These are some questions that the judge will ask you to consider whether you are unmarried partners or a cohabiting couple. Other than this, the judge may ask any other questions to determine a valid common-law marriage. Get an attorney to solve your cases with your partner.
What do you mean by the 10-year rule in California?
Wondering what the 10-year rule is? The rule applies to divorced couples. If the marriage lasts for 10 years or more, then it is called a long-term relationship or marriage. If the marriage lasts for a shorter time, then it is called a short-term marriage.
When and Why did California stop recognizing common-law marriages?
The California common-law marriage ended in 1895. When California became a state, it had modernized laws that would suit the people’s lives and beliefs.
How to determine that you are capable of a Domestic Partnership?
The age of both partners should be over 18. They should be living together, planning for a long-term relationship, and sharing living expenses Neither one of them should be married and in a domestic partnership at the same time.
Does a domestic partnership equate to marriage?
It isn’t the same as being married but offers similar rights that are given to a married couple, such as sharing assets, and bank accounts, raising children, etc.
Do unmarried parents have the right to pay for child support after separation?
Yes, unmarried parents have the right to pay child support only after the family court decides the child’s parentage. Married parents both have equal rights when it comes to children, but unmarried parents have to go through a lot of legal processes.
We have an answer to the recently asked question, does California have common-law marriage? Don’t worry if California does not allow common-law marriage; it has come up with another concept.
Soon, it will improve the concept with more legal benefits for unmarried couples. If you and your unmarried partner are in serious conflict regarding your relationship, then please resolve it with a family law attorney.
The key to every relationship problem is communication. Finding someone to be with them your entire life is difficult. Nobody will ever think anything of you if you are not married. Marriage is a difficult stage of life, and everyone has to be careful while taking a step.[amazon_auto_links id="280559"]