You May Need a Divorce If You Were Never Married

Dec 18, 2017 | Allen A. Ritchie

This is the year (2017) that Alabama ended common law marriage. But if you were common law married in 2016 or before, you may need a divorce even though you have no marriage license.

As the year grows to a close, let’s look back on one of Alabama’s strangest situations.

Let’s begin with — are you are married even though you never had a ceremony? Here we go.

You need 4 things.

Number 1 – you must have the legal right to marry. For example, not already married to someone else.

Number 2 – each of you must intend to be married to the other. One person saying we are married is not enough.

Number 3 – you must hold yourself out as married. For example, tell you friends, co-workers or family that you are married.

Number 4 – the marriage must have been prior to 2017.  Common law marriage was no longer recognized in Alabama starting in January of this year.

So here comes the divorce part. If you are common law married, it is just as valid as if you had a church ceremony. That means if you want to split you have to get a divorce. That means lawyers, court paper and a judge. Getting common law married may have been inexpensive but there is no such things as a common law divorce.

Common law marriage often comes into consideration when one of the partners dies. To collect survivor or death benefits, you must prove you were married.

NBC 15 LawCall is about to start back up after football season and the holidays. I hope you will join us as we take your questions live Sunday night at 10:30.

And as always if you or a family member is injured in a car wreck, slip and fall at a business, workers’ comp or any other injury, you can talk with the lawyers at Eiland and Ritchie for free. As we say, there is no cost until we collect for you. We want to help you get back on your feet.

Allen Ritchie

Personal Injury Attorney