Does GA Have Common Law Marriage?
Georgia does not have provisions for common law marriage, but it does recognize those from other states.
Common-law marriage is when a couple lives together and presents themselves as husband and wife without ever having gone through the legal process for getting married. Some states have specific provisions for these unions, making them legal under state law. This is not the case in Georgia. However, common-law marriages from other states are recognized here. In the event a couple in this situation decides to part ways, they will need an experienced Gwinnett County family law attorney to iron out any disputes that may arise.
Common-Law Marriage in Georgia
There are strict requirements for marriage in Georgia that couples must meet. In addition to residency requirements, both parties must present identification that shows proof of age, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate, in order to apply for a marriage license. If they have been married in the past, they must present a divorce decree, as well. Once a marriage license is issued, the marriage ceremony itself must be conducted by a licensed minister or judge for it to be considered legal.
Common law marriages bypass these steps. Typically, the following is the only criteria common-law couples must meet:
- They live together in a committed relationship for a period of time, which varies by state;
- They meet legal requirements to be married, such as being of age and not currently married to anyone else;
- They think of themselves as married for all practical purposes;
- They present themselves as a married couple to their family, friends, co-workers, and other members of their community.
The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) advises that only a handful of states allow common-law marriages. At one time, Georgia was on this list. Laws pertaining to common law marriage in Georgia were overruled in 1997. However, the state does recognize the legal relationship that exists between common-law couples who move here from other areas.
Does a Common-Law Couple Have to Go Through Divorce Proceedings?
The Georgia Statutes do not recognize common-law marriages, however, once a common law marriage is established, the parties to that marriage are afforded the same rights as any other married couple, including the right to get a divorce. Even though Georgia does not recognize common-law marriages, legal issues can still arise in these cases that require having an experienced family law attorney on your side. These include:
- Disputes over the rights to property and assets the couple accumulated during their years together;
- Arrangements regarding custody and parenting plans for any children from the relationship;
- Court orders regarding any child support payments that may be required.
These are all issues that are generally dealt with in divorce proceedings.
Our Gwinnett County Family Law Attorneys are Here to Help
For people in common-law marriages, Zimmerman & Associates provide the trusted legal guidance needed to protect your rights. To discuss your case, call or contact our Norcross family law attorneys online and request a consultation today.