There’s a lot of confusion out there about common law marriage. People often think that if they live together for a certain number of years, they’ll be considered married in the eyes of the law. But that’s not actually true. 

In fact, there is no such thing as common law marriage in the State of New Jersey. New Jersey outlawed common law marriage in 1939. 

General Common Law Marriage Requirements

In order for a couple to be considered married under common law, they must meet a few specific requirements: 

  • They must live together for a significant period of time (usually at least several years)
  • They must hold themselves out to friends and family as being married (for example, using the same last name or referring to each other as husband and wife)
  • They must intend to be married (meaning that they cannot simply be cohabitating roommates)
  • They must be able to prove all the above to a court if necessary    

It’s important to note that even if a couple meets all four requirements, they will not be considered legally married unless they also obtain a valid marriage license from the state and have their marriage solemnized by a licensed officiant. 

New Jersey Recognizes Marriages From Other States

New Jersey does, however, recognize legal marriages in other states. That means, if you and your spouse meet the common law requirements in your home state, then move to New Jersey, you may be granted marital status in New Jersey.

One of the two ways a common law marriage would exist today in New Jersey is if you and your spouse met the requirements prior to 1939. The other way is if you’re legally married under the common law requirements of another state that does still recognize common law marriage. These states are:

  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas 
  • Utah

Couples who choose not to get married often do so for financial reasons. They may want to avoid getting hit with a higher tax bill or may want to keep their finances separate. But it’s important to understand that there are some serious drawbacks to not being married. 

For example, unmarried couples do not have any legal protections if their relationship ends. If one partner dies without a will, their assets will not automatically go to the surviving partner—instead, they will go through probate and could end up being distributed to distant relatives or even strangers. 

If an unmarried couple decides to buy a house together, it would not be marital property since there’s no marriage. There are ways to title the property to ensure it passes between spouses upon their death, but there’s no protection for either spouse if the relationship ends in other ways.

Contact a Bergen County Family Law Attorney Today

While there are some benefits to living together without being married, it’s important to understand that there are also some serious drawbacks. If you are considering living with your partner without getting married, make sure you talk about your expectations and goals for the future so you can decide what’s best for both of you.

If you’re unsure of your marital status and you want to take steps to formalize your relationship, you could use the assistance of a Bergen County, New Jersey, family law attorney.

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