Oklahoma’s Common Law Marriages and their Requirements

Jul 29, 2014
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    Oklahoma’s Common Law Marriages and their Requirements

    While not all states agree on the legality or necessity of a common law marriage, Oklahoma is one of the 12 states that actually recognizes and enforces its creation. While every state in the United States is required to uphold the laws and values of common law marriages, only a select few truly support them.

    A common law marriage may seem like just another issue to worry about (or not worry about) to some couples, but it is a great “insurance policy” to take out in order to protect each member in the relationship.

    There are a few requirements that must be considered when establishing a common law marriage in Oklahoma such as the length of time living together. While some states are contesting the legality of homosexual marriages, common law marriages for Oklahoma City are still held to their old values and are still defined by the same laws they were established under. While there are no real guidelines that define a common law marriage other than acting like a married couple, there are a few “best practices” to act like a married couple:

    • Filing taxes in a joint tax return status
    • Using “husband” or “wife” to refer to your partner
    • Using the same last name as one another (while it is legal to simply change your last name, a marriage does not strictly constitute the only reason to change your name)
    • Wearing wedding rings

    Of course, while all of these are totally legal to take part in and not be married, it could be a distinct advantage for you and your partner to obtain a common law marriage. In other cases, if there was ever a need for a dissolution to the relationship, the fact of whether a common law marriage was obtained or not could mean a world of a difference for asset division.

    Since common law marriages in Oklahoma are a bit of a gray area between the couple involved and the law, it would be a good idea to consult an expert attorney regarding whether you have a common law marriage, and whether it is in the best interest of each member to go through and obtain a Common Law Marriage.

    The best way to understand common law marriages is to go back to the basic and focus on why they were established. In medieval times, clerics and legal officials established the term “common law marriage” to give couples the right to be wed to themselves in the event that the geographical location was simply too distant to travel. These rural locations were granted the right to marry them based on “common law,” which was what it meant to be married without legal documentation. These days, travelling throughout Oklahoma is not an issue, which is why most states have abolished common law marriages. Essentially, common law marriages are the same as legal marriages, except in the event of a crisis like the death of one of the members; the other member bears the burden of proof rather than automatic award of assets. The same applies to divorce. If a divorce is requested, the couple either bears the burden of proof regarding existence (or nonexistence) of the common law marriage. All things else, divorces of common law marriages in are treated exactly the same way as regular divorces.

    If you feel that you are prepared for a common law marriage and need help establishing the validity of a common law marriage, the team at AMA Law truly understands and recognizes how to prove your marriage to the world. A team of over 100 years of experience serving clients in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Broken Arrow, Lawton, Edmond, Moore, Midwest City, Enid and Stillwater are at your disposal. When you are ready to hold out your common law marriage, contact AMA Law today!

    Request a free consultation

    (405) 607-8757