Questions About Common Law Marriage in Illinois

common law marriage, Aurora In a number jurisdictions throughout the United States, a couple may be considered married without ever having the official “walk down the aisle.” Couples who wish to marry but do not want the pomp and circumstance of a large wedding and reception often file the documentation and are legally married. In a few states, there is another option known as common law marriage and skips both the paperwork and the ceremony. When such a marriage is recognized by the appropriate jurisdiction, the law regarding common law marriage offers the same rights of marriage to two individuals that have been together for a set number of years and are presenting themselves as married. Ending a recognized common law marriage is equivalent to a divorce, so it is important to know how Illinois law treats common law marriage.

Is Common Law Marriage Universally Recognized?

The answer is no. Most states—including Illinois—do not recognize common law marriage. The practice was outlawed in Illinois effective June 30, 1905. A few states that do recognize such marriages include:

  • Alabama;
  • Colorado;
  • Kansas;
  • Montana;
  • Rhode Island;
  • Texas; and
  • Utah.

Several others have stopped recognizing new common law marriages in the last two decades, including Georgia, Idaho, and Pennsylvania.

Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriages From Other States?

The answer is yes. If a marital union is created in another state through common law and the couple moves to Illinois, the state will recognize them as legally married. In the locations that do recognize it, you are legally married in every way if you hold yourself as if you were married and have been together for a set amount of time. Behaviors that demonstrate that you consider yourself to be in a marriage include:

  • Announcing to the community;
  • Calling each other husband and wife;
  • Using the same last name; and
  • Filing joint tax returns.

How Do You End a Common Law Marriage?

If you have moved to Illinois after entering into a recognized common law marriage, you are considered married in every aspect. As with any other marriage, to legally end it, you must complete a divorce process.

Just as you have options in forming your marriage, options exist in regard to ending the marriage. A stressful, long, and drawn-out divorce litigation trial is not a requirement. If you would like an easier, less expensive, option in which both parties are more likely to agree to settlements, a collaborative law divorce may be the best choice for your situation. Contact an experienced Aurora divorce attorney to learn more. Call [[phone]] and schedule your confidential consultation today.



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