The term “common law marriage” applies to a couple who considers themselves married despite never having had a formal marriage ceremony or certificate. In certain circumstances, common law spouses may enjoy some of the same rights that come with a formal marriage.

Georgia abolished common law marriage January 1, 1997, so no common law marriages can be created in the state of Georgia after that time. The only way to secure the rights that come with marriage in Alpharetta without getting formally married is to establish a common law marriage in another state that allows it before returning to Georgia. This aspect of the law is complicated, so it is generally best to discuss common law marriages in Alpharetta with a well-versed family law attorney.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is not a traditional marriage. While it is possible for a ceremony to be involved, a common law marriage will never involve a formal license issued by the county probate clerk. Despite the lack of these formalities, some states acknowledge common law marriages and extend to these couples many of the rights that come with a formal union.

Common law marriage is not a new concept, as the process has been recognized in some states since the 1800s. This type of marriage might seem archaic, but they remain somewhat common. Ten states, as well as the District of Columbia, continue to allow common law marriages. Several other states—including Georgia—recognize common law marriages formed under the laws of other states.

While every state that recognizes common law marriages does so in a different way, there are some general rules that apply across the board. The most important factor is that both parties must be eligible to formally marry, even if they choose not to. This means they must be of sound mind and of the appropriate age to marry under state law. They also cannot be currently married to anyone else. If these criteria are not met, a couple who holds itself out as married will not be awarded the rights of a common law marriage.

Otherwise, some states require the couple to live together and intend to live as a married couple. An attorney in Alpharetta can offer advice on where you should go to obtain a common law marriage based on your exact circumstances.

Does Common Law Marriage Exist in Alpharetta?

There is no option for creating a common law marriage in Alpharetta under state law after January 1, 1997. The law applies strict procedural requirements for a couple to enjoy the rights and protections that come with marriage, and common law marriage will not satisfy those requirements.

Georgia might not allow couples to become common law spouses in Alpharetta, but once they are established in another state, a local court will recognize them as married. This could lead to complex legal challenges, especially if the couple moves to Alpharetta and subsequently seeks a divorce. A lawyer on our team can help answer these challenging legal questions.

Talk to an Attorney about Common Law Marriages in Alpharetta

If you have questions about common law marriages in Alpharetta, an experienced attorney at our firm has the answers. These marriages might not be an option for you, but if you already have a common law marriage established elsewhere, state courts may recognize it in Alpharetta. Reach out to our intake team today to learn more.

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