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Connecticut Common Law Marriage

What is Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut?

Common-law marriages refer to legal unions of couples who present themselves as husband and wife without securing a marriage license or a solemnization ceremony. Despite this, common-law couples have the same rights as couples under a traditional marriage. Depending on the state, these rights may include:

  • The right to visit at a hospital
  • The right to visit in a jail or prison
  • Right to inherit from the spouse
  • Child custody rights
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Insurance benefits
  • Right to a share of the marital property in the event of a divorce
  • Right to spousal support
  • Tax deduction and exemption rights
  • Right to request and obtain certain personal records

Different states have different conditions for the creation of a common-law marriage. Generally, the conditions involve cohabiting for a period of time and holding each other as husband and wife to the public. The duration the couples should cohabit to create a common-law marriage differs per state.

Common-law marriages are often not recorded and do not involve obtaining any document that may conclusively prove the marriage. This may pose difficulties in proving the existence of the marriage and exercising rights under the marriage. Some of the challenges include:

  • The marriage may be hard to prove in the absence of records.
  • Whoever alleges the existence of the marriage has the burden of proving it.
  • The exercise of rights under common-law marriage is dependent on the ability to prove the marriage.

Does Connecticut Recognize Common-Law Marriage?

Connecticut does not recognize common-law marriages entered into in the state. However, Connecticut recognizes common-law marriages created in other states that recognize such marriages pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. The marriage should be recognized in the state it originated from and should have satisfied the conditions in that state. Connecticut Law also recognizes such marriages and grants parties in the marriages the same rights as parties in a traditional marriage. Couples who are unwilling to go through with a traditional marriage may choose to enter a cohabitation agreement by creating a binding contract spelling out rights and obligations.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement in Connecticut?

A cohabitation agreement is a contract between a couple living together to define their relationship and spell out the rights and obligations in the relationship. Merely cohabiting in Connecticut often does not give individuals many of the rights married couples have. However, some of the rights are made available through a cohabitation agreement. Parties can determine property distribution in the event of a separation, grant powers of attorney to each other, grant visitation rights, and other rights and obligations that can be assigned through a contract. The couples can also decide to allow each other to make medical and financial decisions for the other in the event that one partner is incapacitated. The agreement would be legally binding on the parties once they have agreed to it. Although the contract can be created orally, a written contract is easily referenced to show the exact scope of the rights and obligations.

What are the Requirements for a Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut?

Connecticut does not recognize common-law marriages within the state. Therefore, it does not have any requirement for the creation of such marriages. The state, however, recognizes common-law marriages originating from states that recognize such marriages, as long as the marriage is valid. The conditions in most states usually include the following.

  • The couple should not be related by blood.
  • The couple should have lived together for a period of time.
  • The spouses should not be younger than 18 years old.
  • Both parties should be capable of consenting to the marriage under the law.
  • Both parties should not be in any other marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.

Connecticut recognizes other arrangements in which a couple cohabit and has rights and obligations regarding each other without getting married. This may be done through a cohabitation agreement. Through such an agreement, the couple can define their relationship and provide for rights and obligations regarding each other.

How Many Years Do You Have to Live Together for Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut?

No matter how long a couple lives together in Connecticut, they cannot enter a common-law marriage together. Traditional marriage is the only marriage recognized in Connecticut. Some states that recognize common-law marriages may have the specific duration couples are required to cohabit before a common-law marriage can be created. Connecticut recognizes cohabitation agreements, which can be created between a couple by contract. It also becomes legally binding between the couples as a contract, providing for rights and obligations.

What Does It Mean to Be Legally Free to Marry in Connecticut?

Being legally free to marry in Connecticut means that the person satisfies all the conditions to get married in the state. The age of marriage in Connecticut is 18 years old. A minor who is 16 or 17 years old may also apply to a probate court to get married. However, the court would have to ascertain that the minor and the minor's parents or guardians consent to the marriage. The probate court may use its discretion to determine whether or not to allow the marriage. The court would consider whether the minor understands the nature of a marriage, whether the minor has the capacity to make such a decision, whether the minor is voluntarily consenting, and whether the marriage would not be detrimental to the minor. Also, the parties should not be closely related or be in any other marriage.

What is an Informal Marriage in Connecticut?

An informal marriage is a term used to describe a common-law marriage in Texas. It does not involve obtaining a marriage license or going through a wedding ceremony. Informal marriages cannot be created in Connecticut. However, informal marriages originating from Texas will be valid if the couple relocates to Connecticut. Couples under an informal marriage recognized in Connecticut are entitled to the rights as couples under a traditional marriage.

How Do You Prove Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut?

A party to a common-law marriage can prove the existence of the marriage through witness testimony and documentary evidence. There are several circumstances in which it may become crucial in proving the marriage's existence. Such circumstances include inheritance from a spouse, child visitation or custody, getting a divorce, or claiming insurance. The party seeking to prove the common-law marriage would need to establish an intention to get married and the couple’s consistent cohabitation over a period of time. The claimant may prove this through the following:

  • Joint leases and joint rental agreements
  • Documents showing joint ownership of property
  • Documents showing joint tenancy
  • Documents in which one spouse is listed as the husband or wife of the other
  • Witness testimony to show that the couple referred to themselves as husband and wife
  • Records of joint bank accounts
  • Records of joint tax returns
  • Records showing that one party took on the surname of another
  • Driver’s license, insurance policies, and other documents that show a shared address for the couple

Third-party websites may also provide a convenient solution to obtaining older public vital records. These non-governmental platforms come with intuitive search tools that help simplify the process of accessing single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. To obtain public marriage records, requesters may need to provide:

  • The full name of both spouses (include first, middle, and last names)
  • The date the marriage occurred (month, date, and year)
  • The location where the marriage occurred (city and county)

How Do You Prove Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut After Death?

A spouse can prove a common-law marriage after the death of the other partner through evidence. The evidence may be either witness testimony or documents. The testimony may come from family members testifying that the couple lived together and intended to be married. An intention to be married can be inferred from referring to each other as husband and wife. The evidence to prove the common-law marriage may also be records showing that the spouse cohabited and referred to each other as spouses. Such documents include birth certificates of children and documents showing the operation of a joint bank account. The parties must have created the common-law marriage in a state that recognizes such marriages and fulfilled all conditions set by the state.

Do Common-Law Marriages Require a Divorce?

Common-law marriages established in a state that recognizes such marriages require a divorce. Without a divorce, the parties would be unable to marry another person. However, Connecticut has residency requirements for parties to file a divorce in the state. A party should have resided in the state for up to 12 months to file a divorce in Connecticut. The court shall determine the division of property, child custody, and other matters regarding the dissolution of the marriage. Connecticut is a no-fault state. Any party can file for a divorce without fault on grounds that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, there are also grounds of fault that may influence the distribution of the marital property. The grounds for divorce in Connecticut include the following.

  • Adultery
  • Willfully leaving the other party for at least one year
  • Imprisonment for some crimes
  • Insanity
  • Intolerable cruelty

Does a Common-Law Wife Have Rights in Connecticut?

A common-law wife in Connecticut has the same rights as a wife in a formal marriage. This will be the case if the common-law marriage originated from a state that recognizes it and the conditions are fulfilled, as Connecticut does not recognize such marriage within the state. A common-law wife has a right to marital property in the event of a divorce, the right to make medical and financial decisions, healthcare benefits, and social security benefits.

Can a Common-Law Wife Collect Social Security in Connecticut?

A common-law wife in Connecticut can collect social security. However, the common-law marriage should originate from a state that recognizes it, and all the necessary conditions should be met. The party seeking social security would also need to provide evidence to prove the existence of the common-law marriage. The wife would need to submit a statement from a blood relation and complete the Statement of Marital Relationship Form. The wife would also need to provide the following information about the marriage.

  • The month and year the spouses began cohabiting as a married couple.
  • The duration and locations the spouses have cohabitated.
  • The location of the marriage occurred.
  • If there are any children under the marriage
  • A list of family, neighbors, or employers with knowledge of the marriage
  • If the couples changed their names, their former names

Are Common-Law Wives Entitled to Half in Connecticut?

Common-law wives in Connecticut are not entitled to half of the marital property, as Connecticut is a “fair distribution” state. Hence, property division is done equitably between the parties but not necessarily equally. The right of a common-law wife regarding the division of marital property is the same. The court would consider several factors in dividing the property, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The reason for the divorce and if any party was at fault
  • The likelihood of each party to acquire assets in the future
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition of the property, including non-financial contributions such as home
  • The age, health, occupation, and employability of the factors
  • Such other factors that the court may consider relevant

How Do You Get a Common-Law Marriage Affidavit in Connecticut?

Interested persons cannot get common-law marriage affidavits in Connecticut as the state does not recognize the marriages. However, states that recognize common-law marriages may provide affidavits. The process and requirements for obtaining the affidavits differ per state. However, some information should generally be included in all common-law marriage affidavits, irrespective of the state. These include:

  • The affidavit should state that the spouses were of a legal age to get married when they decided to be married.
  • The affidavit should include the date the parties decided to be married.
  • The affidavit should contain the location the parties decided to be married.
  • The affidavit should include previous marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships of both parties, with the wedding date and termination date.

When Did Common-Law Marriage End in Connecticut?

Common-law marriages are not recognized in Connecticut.

What is Considered Common-Law Marriage in Connecticut?

Common-law marriages cannot be created in Connecticut. However, common-law couples relocating to Connecticut from a state that recognizes the marriage as valid will retain their marital rights. They will be entitled to the same rights as traditionally married couples. However, to obtain marital rights within Connecticut, interested persons would need to get a marriage license from the vital records office. However, Connecticut recognizes cohabitation agreements. Couples can create binding contracts between themselves to create rights and obligations.

Does the Federal Government Recognize Connecticut Common-Law Marriages?

The Federal Government does not recognize Connecticut common-law marriages, as the state does not practice common-law marriages. The Federal Government only recognizes common-law marriages originating from states that recognize such marriages. There are nine of these states in the United States, including Kansas, Iowa, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Montana. Common-law marriages created in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Ohio before a specific date are also recognized. Common-law marriages can grant the spouses some benefits, especially regarding filing taxes and for immigration and obtaining permanent residency.