Can I Get Alimony After A Common Law Marriage?

Perhaps the most glaring difference between a common law marriage and a marriage is that the former is not registered as a religious or civil marriage. However, many states recognize a common law marriage the same as they recognize a ceremonial marriage. Where does alimony fit in when it comes to a common law marriage. The answer depends on the state in which you reside. There are other variables which can also influence the answer to that question and which are best addressed by a divorce lawyer in Bloomington, IL. ?It?s possible that if you do not qualify for alimony that you may be able to pursue alternatives such as palimony, but your circumstances must first be reviewed by an experienced divorce lawyer from our firm. Call us for a free consultation with a lawyer from our legal team to find out more.


Moving to a State That Does Not Recognize Common Law Marriages


What can further complicate the matter of alimony and the dissolution of a common law marriage is that they are not recognized in all jurisdictions. Though the couple may have been common law married in one state, if they move to one that does not recognize it then subsequently end their relationship, what are the legal obligations regarding alimony? Furthermore, what if one spouse stayed behind in a state that recognizes it, and the other spouse moved to a state that does not? Every situation is unique because of the combination of variables involved. It?s important to seek guidance from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can ascertain your legal options.


When a Spouse Challenges the Validity of Their Common Law Marriage


Sadly, its not unheard of for a spouse in a common law marriage to deny the validity of that marriage for the purpose of avoiding paying alimony and adhering to other potential legal obligations. Determining the best strategy to handle this can be greatly benefited from the insight of a divorce lawyer who is intimately familiar with the laws surrounding marriage, family law, divorce, and related matters. The process may include evidentiary hearings in court, during which your attorney will be by your side protecting your rights. During one or more hearings, you may have to present proof that your common law marriage was valid. This information you and your divorce lawyer offer the court may also be used to determine your eligibility for alimony. Such proof may include any of the following:

  • Joint tax returns that also indicate that you and your spouse are married.
  • Shared credit cards, bank accounts, loans.
  • Sworn affidavits from witnesses who testify that you and your spouse represented yourselves as married to one another.
  • A written, dated, and signed cohabitation agreement between you and your spouse.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into alimony and family law.


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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.

**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)

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