Divorce can be long and expensive. In this day of convenience, a lot of couples are opting not to take their vows and instead opt to live together. Couples who do this tend to think in terms that marriage is too much of a commitment and is too hard to get out of (I am assuming that is their thinking based on conversations with my clients) and they want to just live together ‘just in case’ their relationship turns sour and they break up.
In Oklahoma, we are one of just a handful states that still recognizes common law marriage. The way common law marriage works is this, basically if a couple lives together underneath the same roof and does so with the intent that their relationship be permanent and binding (just like in marriage) then that couple is common law married. Legally speaking, a common law married couple is treated just the same as a traditionally married couple.
The problem being with this treatment is that a common law married couple needs to file for divorce and go through the rigors of the divorce process just like a traditionally married couple. The reason for this being, when common law spouses separate, each can be held liable for debts acquired during the period of cohabitation. This means in the event that the common law spouses do separate and one of the spouses defaults on a loan then there is a possibility that the creditors will sue the non-defaulting spouse for the remaining balance on the loan.
Scared yet? 🙂 In the event you find yourself in this situation where you and your significant other might be ‘common law spouses’, call my law office to discuss the details surrounding the separation. By doing so you will have your questions answered by a licensed divorce attorney and have peace of mind moving forward into the separation.