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Do common-law spouses need a property division lawyer?

In some states, common law marriage is still recognized. This type of union occurs when a couple lives together in a committed relationship outside of the bonds of marriage, yet act as husband and wife. When things go awry, however, one partner often tries to pursue the other for property division and spousal support. In such cases, including in the state of Florida, a property division lawyer may be required.

An example lies in a case from another state in which a man and woman did not see eye-to-eye on how to handle the financial ramifications of the end of their relationship. The couple first got together in 1994, when the man was still married to another woman. Over the years, they began referring to each other as spouses yet never formally married.

When the relationship ended in 2016, the woman filed for divorce and asked for alimony. When the case went to court, the man argued that she was not his wife, pointing out that he had asked her to marry have numerous times throughout the relationship and was denied. The man did list the woman as his wife in order to get health insurance coverage for her, and the couple filed their taxes as married in 2015.

Regardless of this evidence, the court ruled that the relationship did not meet the legal requirements of marriage, nor did it constitute a common law marriage. As a result, the woman has no ability to seek spousal support. She may, however, contract the services of the property division lawyer to determine how the couple's assets might be divided. For Florida readers, this case illustrates the importance of making clear and documented delineations concerning who owns what in a lengthy romantic relationship.

Source: pennlive.com, "'She's not my wife,' man says, and Pa. court agrees", Matt Miller, Nov. 8, 2017

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