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North Carolina Common Law Marriage – What You Should Know

Most American couples choose to get married in a legal or religious ceremony after obtaining a marriage license. Some states, however, do not require a marriage license to recognize common law marriage. When a couple complies with specific criteria, their common law union may be recognized as lawful. Most states do not recognize common law marriage. However, if a couple is deemed to be legally common law married in a state where it is recognized, then they would also be regarded as such in other states where it is not recognized.

In some states, common law marriages are an easy way for couples in long-term relationships to tie the knot. However, laws regarding common law marriages and the history behind them vary from state to state, and the reasoning behind their statutes on this practice varies as well. For example, those in Oklahoma can still enter into a legally binding common-law marriage. If they were not married and wanted to do the same in North Carolina, though, they would need to solidify their marriage with either a religious figure or a judge. If you are looking to get married in North Carolina, it is best to know some basic facts about the marriage system that can help you make the right decision about your union.

What Is a Common Law Marriage in NC?

A marriage that is deemed valid due to the consent of both parties, but has not yet been consummated or officially recorded by a state or religious body, is referred to as a common law marriage. The parties must have lived together, announced themselves to the public as a married couple, and intended to be married in most states that permit the establishment of a common law marriage. When separating due to a divorce, these cases can be very hard to navigate.

Montana, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Texas are among the states that still recognize common law marriages. Other states have varying allowances for several of the states that still recognize this practice. For instance, New Hampshire only acknowledges Oklahoma’s conflicting laws for inheritance purposes. In North Carolina, however, common law marriages are not legally recognized unless they are performed in a state that allows common law marriages. For example, if a couple living in Rhode Island enters into a common law marriage, then decides to move to Asheville, their marriage will still be recognized as valid despite not being ratified by an ordained minister or judge.

How Does Common Law Marriage Work for Divorce?

Common law divorce is frequently not recognized by states that recognize common law marriage. Couples are expected to undergo the same divorce procedure as conventionally wed individuals. Residents of North Carolina are not permitted to remarry if they are participants in a common law marriage that was established in another state.

A couple must obtain a legal divorce to officially separate from one another, whether they were married legally or through common law. Legal separation is different from merely separating from your spouse and declaring that you are no longer married. Until they obtained a formal divorce, the pair would still be regarded as legally wedded. To file for divorce in North Carolina, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months, and the pair must have been physically apart for at least a year.

FAQs About North Carolina Common Law Marriage

Does North Carolina Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Common law marriages are not recognized in North Carolina. According to N.C. Gen. Stat. 51-1, a marriage can only be constituted in the presence of a magistrate or an ordained minister of any religious affiliation. It must also be accompanied by a statement that the parties are united in matrimony. However, those moving to North Carolina from a state that legally recognizes common law marriages will have their unions recognized once they are in the state.

Who Gets the House When an Unmarried Couple Splits Up in North Carolina?

Whoever’s name appears on the title will be the owner of the property. If the title and mortgage are in both parties’ names, they will both be liable for the payments until the party who keeps the house refinances. If a couple in this kind of circumstance is unable to agree on who should keep the residence, they may need to resolve these disputes in court.

How Long Do You Have to Live Together to Be Considered Married in North Carolina?

Regardless of how long you and your partner have been living together, you must have a legally recognized marriage to be considered married. Fortunately, couples living together and legally recognized as having a common law marriage in another state can maintain that status once moving to North Carolina.

Does North Carolina Recognize Domestic Partners?

Domestic partnerships are not recognized by the state of North Carolina in any way. People who live together but are not married will not have the same legal protections as married people. However, many organizations and local governments provide benefits, such as healthcare coverage, for domestic partners. Many cities in the state also accept domestic partnerships. Additionally, same-sex marriages are considered legal if performed in front of a magistrate or religious figure.

Seeking Legal Help With Common Law Marriages

While common law marriage may appear to be a desirable alternative (because there are no formal government licensing requirements), judicial involvement is almost certainly necessary when looking for a legally recognized marriage. For instance, states that permit common law marriage frequently do not permit common law divorce. One is anticipated to undergo the same divorce procedure as conventionally wed individuals.

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding common-law marriages in the United States. Finding legal representation for any complications with a common law marriage is imperative to moving forward with new unions. Contact Parsons Law, PA, to learn more about the ways we can help you with your questions regarding marriage in Asheville.