Some couples cannot wait to get married and start sharing their lives together as an official union. Other couples, however, do not feel the same way. While these couples may love each other and want to live together, they have no desire to get married. These unions are known as common law marriages and in many states, common law couples have all of the same rights and obligations as married couples. In Michigan, this is not the case, although the state does allow some common law couples certain rights.
What is Common Law Marriage?
All 50 states recognize the legal union of marriage, allowing married couples to intertwine their rights and responsibilities. Some states also recognize common law marriages if they meet certain requirements. These typically include:
- The couple must live together for a certain period of time.
- The couple must have a legal right to marry.
- The couple acknowledges each other as husband and wife.
Some states that recognize common law marriage may not have all of these requirements, while others may have even more requirements than these.
Common Law Marriages in Michigan
Although Michigan does not recognize common law marriages, individuals that entered into a common law marriage in another state will be treated as a married couple in Michigan. The states that currently recognize common law marriage include:
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
Washington, D.C. also recognizes common law marriages. Although Michigan will recognize common law couples from these states, they must still meet some requirements. These include:
- The state from which the couple moved must recognize common law marriage.
- The couple must meet the legal requirements for common law marriage within their home state.
- The couple cohabitated with each other in their home state.
When common law couples meet these requirements, Michigan will treat them as a married couple and afford them all the same rights and responsibilities. However, there are still some steps the couple must take. These include:
- The couple must draft a durable power of attorney that allows them to speak for each other in legal matters in the event that one individual becomes incapacitated or deceased.
- The couple must draft a medical power of attorney that gives each person the right to make medical decisions for each other.
When couples can meet all of these requirements, Michigan will recognize the common law union.
How Unmarried Couples Can Preserve Their Rights
Although Michigan does not recognize common law marriages, there is a way unmarried couples can protect their rights. This is through a cohabitation agreement, which is very similar to a premarital agreement in the state. A cohabitation agreement can outline what each person will receive in property division in the event that the couple breaks up.
Cohabitation agreements cannot outline provisions for child custody and child support. However, in Michigan, the non-custodial parent is typically responsible for paying the custodial parent child support, even when there is no cohabitation agreement in place.
Our Michigan Family Law Attorneys can Help Protect Your Rights
If you are in a relationship and do not wish to get married, but still want to uphold your rights, it is important that you speak to a Clinton Township family law attorney today who can help you draft an agreement and protect your rights. At Iafrate & Salassa, we will ensure that your rights are protected regardless of your domestic situation. Call us today or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys.