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Common Law Marriage in Virginia: What you should know.


Common law marriage is not legally recognized in Virginia. Interestingly, very few states have common law marriage. But what is it, you may ask?

In states that recognize common law marriage principles, it is a type of valid marriage based on two people living in the same home for a specific period of time. This timeframe varies state-by-state (for those states that recognize it). Generally, however, if the couple holds themselves out to their community as a traditionally married couple might and has done so for a certain period of time, they may be able to be considered as having a “common law marriage.” States that still recognize these types of marriages do so to afford romantic partners outside of the traditional marital unions, the same legal benefits of those that are in them. This can be especially significant for property rights issues.

It is also important to note that common law marriage does not typically require couples to obtain a marriage license or even perform a solemnization ceremony (this is a fancy way of saying a public ceremony of some sort).

In Virginia, however, there are a series of requirements for couples to be legally married, and take advantage of the legal benefits that come from it. The two main requirements are that (1) the parties must obtain a valid marriage license and (2) they must have some type of a marriage ceremony, where an officiant (example: ordained minister, clergy member, or a person authorized by the court) presides over the event.

This is an important reminder (or maybe wakeup call!) for romantic couples who live together for extended periods of time, to consider that if they are not legally married, there are limited protections afforded to them in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The primary way for romantic, cohabitating couples to protect themselves is to enter into a contract with one another.

While you and your romantic partner may have a strong love connection, this connection alone is not enough to create, acquire, or protect your property interests...at least not in Virginia!

If you have questions about your unique family law matter, our experienced attorneys at Morris Williams LLC – A Family Law Firm are here to empower you to make the best decisions for your future. Contact us to today to schedule your consultation by calling (757) 226-9425 or email us at admin@morriswilliamslaw.com.

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