Am I Married?
Divorce questions are the most frequent questions we get at the office. They range from ‘how do I get started’ to ‘what will it look like when we’re done’ and everything in between. And, sometimes the divorce question isn’t really about divorce, but it is the first question that needs an answer. Sometimes, the first question is: ‘Am I Married?”. So, let’s start there today on this discussion of some divorce basics.
There are two ways to be married. A formal marriage- the traditional wedding with a minister, priest, judge or another official would be an example of a formal marriage. And, there is an informal marriage- what people usually mean when they say ‘common law marriage’ or common law husband and wife.
It is definitely easier to answer the question of whether you have a formal marriage- did you get married and was your marriage valid where you got married? But even that isn’t always easy to know and sometimes that is a little bit of a sticky question to answer clearly. If you don’t know if your marriage was valid at the time that you got married then you should definitely find a good family law attorney to talk to about your questions. And, if your answers to the formal marriage are a resounding yes- then yes you are married.
And, if you think you might be informally married you need to ask yourself a few different questions- 1) did you two ever call each other husband and wife to friends, in official documents or file taxes that way? If so, the legal term we as lawyers would use and consider is that you may have held each other out as husband and wife. The second question is did you talk about or agree to be married? If you talked about being married and agreed on it, did you live together with that understanding about the agreement to be married? Or did you maybe live together with the agreement that you wouldn’t be married?
Additional Questions about Marriage
These are the questions that are discussed in a straightforward conversation about formal and informal (common law marriage). However, there are other issues about whether or not you have a valid marriage that this may not have answered for you, for example if you believe you were misled into the marriage or something situation like that. Those questions are ones that a good family lawyer can help you answer to get to the bottom line about what your next steps could be and options available to you.
For answers to your family law and divorce questions contact an experienced family lawyer, Jill O’Connell, 940-497-5454.