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Does your common-law marriage hold up in court?

Relationships are always complicated, no matter how you go about them. However, few family law issues are as complicated as common law marriages. Defining what even is a common-law marriage varies from state to state, but once one is established, a common law spouse can invoke many of the same privileges that traditional spouses enjoy.

If you find yourself in a dilemma involving a common law marriage in Montana, you should seek out an experienced attorney who can help you understand the specifics of the law and how they may apply to your circumstances. Your future may depend on proving definitively that your common-law marriage does or does not exist. Be sure to seek out all the guidance that you need to build a strong case and protect your interests.

What is a common law marriage in Montana?

In Montana, common law marriages can occur much more quickly than in other states. As long as two individuals meet the qualifications to get married in Montana and choose to co-habitate with the intent to get married, a common law marriage can exist in a single day.

While that is an unlikely scenario, it is still legally possible, so it is important that people entering into serious relationships understand the law surrounding how a common law marriage can get established.

In very broad strokes, a common law marriage exists theoretically until it is challenged. Once challenged, a judge decides whether or not a marriage exists. If a judge decides that the marriage is valid, the marriage persists until a court grants the couple a divorce or until one of the spouses dies.

Ways to indicate a common law marriage

Probably the most straightforward way for a couple to establish a common law marriage is by putting it in writing and signing it. As long as the qualifications for marriage are met, the couple intends to be common law married, and the couple lives together, the marriage is probably valid.

However, there are many other ways that a common law may occur, and it may look very different from couple to couple. A common law may behave in a number of ways, including:

  • Live together as a couple
  • Raise children together
  • Open joint bank accounts
  • Pay taxes jointly
  • Share costs of household needs and monthly expenses
  • Buy real estate together
  • Buy other property jointly
  • Use the words "husband" or "wife" to refer to each other

If you are unsure how legally sound your common law marriage is, be sure to seek out proper legal counsel that helps you sort out the issue.

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