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Does Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Does Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

02 / December 2020

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Does Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Marriage is not for everyone. Some people want to live together and act as a married couple, but their union is never made official. They do not apply for a marriage license and they do not have a ceremony that joins them together. However, couples in common law marriages do generally believe they will be together for the rest of their lives and they may even call each other their spouse. Common law marriages are becoming common today but many question whether Michigan law actually recognizes these unions.

The History of Common Law Marriages in Michigan

Prior to 1957, Michigan did recognize common law marriages. The theory behind it was that if a couple was willing to present themselves to others as married, they could not then later deny that fact. When common law marriages were recognized in the state, a common law couple that broke up would be treated the same way as a couple that was getting an official divorce.

Michigan abolished common law marriages in 1957. Once the state determined it would no longer recognize these unions, it was mandated that couples must obtain a license to marry in Michigan and have a wedding certificate to be considered officially wed.

When Will Michigan Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Although Michigan did abolish the notion of common law marriages in 1957, the state will still recognize certain common law unions. Any couple that was considered common law prior to 1957 is still viewed as such in the eyes of the law and common law rules will apply if the couple decided to break up.

Under the “full faith and credit” clause of the United States Constitution, Michigan will recognize a common law couple that moves to Michigan. For example, Iowa is one of the few states that still recognizes common law marriages. If a couple is considered common law in Iowa and then they move to Michigan together, Michigan will still recognize the couple as common law. However, the couple must have complied with the common laws of their state. Sometimes, simply living together is not enough.

How to Protect Yourself as an Unmarried Couple

Just because the law does not recognize common law marriages does not mean unmarried couples are left without protection. Common law couples that move to Michigan, and residents of the state should always consult with a lawyer when they want to protect themselves and their unofficial union. A lawyer can help couples draft a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney to make their wishes known. A lawyer can also create a cohabitation agreement that outlines certain terms such as the division of property, child care, and more, in the event that the couple breaks up.

Call Our Michigan Family Lawyers Today

If you are not married in Michigan, but you do live with your partner and want to protect that union and yourself, call our Clinton Township family lawyers today. At Iafrate & Salassa, we will advise on your case and draft the agreements that will protect you today and in the future. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.

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