In order to be released from the bonds of matrimony, you must first prove the existence of said relationship. Not a problem for most. However, it may not prove to be such an easy task if you are dealing with a Common Law Marriage. Specifically if you and your “spouse” disagree on the status of the relationship.

Keep In  Mind… Cohabitation alone does not equate a Common Law Marriage. To validate the claim of a Common Law Marriage, one must provide evidence that parties did indeed exchange words, using the present tense, with the specific purpose of creating a legal relationship of husband and wife. If evidence is disputed, the party seeking divorce may then present further evidence regarding cohabitation and the  reputation of marriage to support the claim.

In Hukka v. Weyhenmeyer (PICS Case No. 11-1338, C.P. Carbon June 24, 2011) parties resided together for twelve years and had two mutual children. The Plaintiff alleged that the parties verbally confirmed their relationship and exchanged symbols of their bond. However, the court determined that the words used, and the context in which the words were used, was not sufficient evidence to support the claim. Neither was a common law marriage affidavit as parties’ wills, employment, financial, tax, and insurance documents also failed to support the claim.

It can be a daunting task to define a relationship, specifically when dependent upon other’s perspectives. So keep in mind that a few spoken words over a cocktail and several years together does not equal a marriage.

Couples seeking assistance with ending a common law marriage are urged to contact a family law attorney for assistance with equitable distribution, child custody and support, and other family law matters commonly associated with divorce. To talk with an experienced family law attorney, contact Petrelli Previtera. P.C. at 215 (523) 6900 and schedule a consultation.