When it comes to relationships, legal recognition can play a significant role. Recognition is especially relevant to property division and financial support upon separation. “Common law marriages” unions formed without a formal ceremony or marriage license

These relationships are often based on the length of time a couple shares their lives. But does New Jersey recognize common-law marriages? This blog post will explore common-law marriages in Bergen County and beyond.

Understanding Common Law Marriage

In the realm of relationships and unions, there exists a concept known as “common law marriage.” This type of marriage might seem rather unconventional. It contrasts the traditional image of a wedding ceremony with vows and rings. 

Common law marriages are a unique legal phenomenon. They raise questions about recognition and legitimacy, particularly in states like New Jersey.

Defying Tradition: The Basics of Common Law Marriage

Common law marriages are often called “marriage by habit and repute.” These unions challenge the conventional norms surrounding matrimony. Traditional marriages are formalized through ceremonies and licenses. 

Common-law marriages are formed through time and the shared experience of cohabitation. In these relationships, the commitment between partners grows organically, without official documentation.

States of Recognition: A Patchwork of Approaches

Common law marriages sound like an interesting alternative to traditional weddings. However, their recognition varies across different states in the United States. Some states acknowledge and embrace common-law marriages. These states grant the same legal status and benefits as legal marriages. Yet, New Jersey takes a different stance on this matter.

New Jersey’s Stance on Common Law Marriage

Unlike some states, New Jersey doesn’t consider common-law marriages valid. There is technically an exception for those established before December 1, 1939. So, even if a couple has lived together for a long time, they don’t get the same legal rights as married couples. This can be a big deal, especially if they want to divide things they own or need support if they break up.

Property Division in Common Law Marriage Dissolution

Property division can become complex when common-law couples decide to part ways. Legally married couples have predefined rules and regulations governing asset division. But unmarried couples, including common law unions, must navigate this process independently.

Factors Considered in Property Division

When assessing the division of assets for unmarried couples, courts consider several factors:

  • The duration of cohabitation.
  • Financial contributions made by each partner to the household.
  • Joint purchases or investments made during the relationship.
  • Any agreements, whether express or implied, between the partners.

Other factors may be considered as well, specific to the facts of the case.

Express vs. Implied Agreements

Couples can rely on express or implied agreements to address asset division. Express agreements are written contracts outlining how assets will be divided during separation. Implied agreements are more challenging. They rely on the circumstances and actions of the couple.

Alternatives to Common Law Marriage in New Jersey

In Bergen County, couples often look for ways to keep themselves safe and plan for their future. New Jersey has other legal options for those who decide on different ways of being in a relationship.

Domestic Partnerships

Love in New Jersey has many forms. The state knows not everyone follows the usual marriage path. That’s why they use “domestic partnerships.” These partnerships let couples be recognized without a big wedding. It’s like a middle ground between just living together and being married.

With domestic partnerships, couples get some legal rights. Even without a wedding, they get legal help. New Jersey values all relationships. Partnerships don’t give all marriage rights. Yet, they provide some security and acknowledgment. They can help with things like inheritance rights and healthcare decisions.

New Jersey respects everyone’s choices. Even without a wedding, you can still get legal protection through domestic partnerships. This shows the state cares about different relationships and fairness.

Cohabitation and Living Together Agreements

Couples who live together without marrying can plan their future with “cohabitation agreements.” These plans say how things get divided if the relationship ends. Instead of usual rules, partners decide how to share their stuff.

Cohabitation agreements are more than paper with legal words. Living together agreements are like cohabitation but cover more than sharing. They discussed parts of the relationship, like money, responsibility, and shared belongings. 

These agreements help partners understand what to expect. Couples avoid confusion later by discussing how to divide things before issues arise. These agreements let couples set their own rules.

Taking proactive steps to ensure couples are prepared for the future is vital. These agreements make couples feel better, agreeing on roles, actions, and possible outcomes.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States