Alabama Abolishes Future Common-Law Marriages

couple having coffee

Common law marriages have come to an end in the state of Alabama. So no longer can you now say that “I do” without having gone through an actual ceremony to say “I do”. There was a change in the state law which was initiated on January 1st 2017 that has put a legislative stop to the “unofficial” weddings now.

Montgomery, AlabamaThe bill was introduced by Republican Mike Jones and was signed off on by Governor Robert Bentley, which means that the practice of common law marriages has been abolished. Importantly too, any common law marriages that were entered into before January 1st 2017 will remain valid.

Alabama was one of the last states in the country to actually recognize common law marriages, so the fact that this has happened there has been a pretty sweeping radical change for them. The only states remaining now in the USA where common-law marriages can still be performance are Texas, Utah, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, South Carolina and New Hampshire, each of the states having some form of the marriage permissible.



What is Common Law Marriage?

coupleSo with the radical change being swept in by Alabama to kickoff the new year, what does it actually mean? What is a common law marriage? A common law marriage is a union that doesn’t actually require any ceremony performed by an officiate (be it public of religious) and no actual marriage license needs to be filed or held. It actually something that dates back to Colonial times when it would have been difficult for people to find a religious official to perform a unionship for them.

So it became common that simply announcing themselves as husband and wife was enough proof of a marriage. In the case of Alabama, all that needed to happen to have a common-law marriage was a simple agreement between the two parties that they were entered into a marriage relationship and that they could present themselves as being publicly married. Things such a joint-tax returns or a joint bank account could have been used for proof of a common law marriage.

The common-law marriage, can throw up confusing legal matter such as a when one of the people involved actually denies that the marriage exists. Then there is a lot of criteria needed to prove whether or not there was a common-law marriage in place in the first place.

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