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Common Law Marriage and Unmarried Couples

Common Law Marriage

Common Law Marriage and Unmarried Couples

May 3, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Common Law Marriage and Unmarried Couples

May 3, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Navigating Relationship Changes: Common Law Marriage and Unmarried Couples

Understanding the Evolution of Relationships and Marriage

Society’s perception of relationships and marriage has undergone significant changes. The stigma against cohabiting with a non-spouse partner has largely dissipated, and the concept of common law marriage continues to evolve.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage traditionally meant that a couple living together for a certain period, with the intention of being spouses and presenting themselves as married to others, could be recognized as legally married without a formal ceremony or license.

The Status of Common Law Marriage in Minnesota

Minnesota abolished common law marriage in 1941. This means no amount of cohabitation or representation as a married couple in Minnesota constitutes a legal marriage. To be recognized as married, couples must obtain a marriage license and have the union solemnized by an authorized figure. However, if a couple established a common law marriage in a state that recognizes it, Minnesota may acknowledge their marital status.

Rights of Unmarried Couples During Separation

Not being married to your partner has significant implications, especially upon separation:

  • Ineligibility for Spousal Maintenance: Unmarried individuals don’t qualify for spousal maintenance.
  • Marital Property Division: Unmarried couples don’t have the same rights as married couples in dividing property during separation. This can particularly affect individuals who have forgone careers to manage the home.

Despite these differences, unmarried couples still have some legal remedies:

  • Property Division: If both partners jointly own property like a home, they can seek legal assistance to divide their interests.
  • Child Custody and Support: The court will still address child custody and support for unmarried parents, treating these matters similarly to those of married couples.

Seeking Legal Assistance for Family Law Matters

At Johnson/Turner, we have extensive experience in handling complex family law issues, whether you’re married or not. Contact us to discuss your specific situation and explore your legal options.


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