MarriagelawMarriage is a legally sanctioned contract that alters the legal status of involved parties giving them certain rights and obligations. An alternative to traditional marriage is common law marriage which allows parties to enter an arrangement without a marriage license. Laws regarding common law marriage are designed to regulate parties’ expectations, such as: disability; property inheritance; legitimizing children; and allowing surviving spouses to receive social security benefits.

Only certain states recognize common law marriage (see list of states at the end of the article). For common law marriage to be acknowledged partners must display their union by methods which include written statements from others and bank records.

Social Security provides financial benefits for applicants that are qualified as non-working individuals with permanent injury or long term illness. The social security administration has guidelines for management and distribution of disability benefits in states that recognize common law marriage. Federal law regulates social security distribution, but when it comes to common law marriage state laws are relavent.

States that recognize common law marriage have specific requirements to validate the union and qualify individuals for benefits. For example, both couples have to live in the same state; share the same last name; hold shared bank accounts; be mentally stable; have intent to marry; and provide a letter from a blood relative acknowledging the marriage. When it comes to issues of divorce married couples must file for a divorce decree in the state they formed the common law marriage.

To qualify for disability benefits after a spouse has died statements from blood relatives of the deceased must be produced. If both partners have died then statements from blood relatives of the wife and husband are required.

Couples that move from the state they formed the common law marriage are still eligible for SSA benefits as long as the state they moved from extends common law status to other states.

Many veteran and military benefits are based on marriage. A spouse may pursue collections if a spouse dies while serving in the military or collect VA benefits after military service has been served. The VA and military acknowledges common law marriage as a valid union when established in states that recognize it.

Common law marriage is no different than traditional marriage when it comes to issues of love and happiness. However, to ensure the rights of all citizens are protected, guidelines exist to secure assets, benefits and individual rights. Sometimes legal counsel is needed to navigate complex situations and to ensure laws are upheld. If an individual is seeking counsel for social security disability rights they can confidentially rely on the knowledge and experience of Parmele Law Firm at Parmele Law Firm sets itself apart from other attorneys by representing with compassion, aggressive litigation and inspiration for the community.

States that recognize common law marriage are:

-District of Columbia
-Georgia (if established before 1/1/97)
-Idaho (if established before 1/1/96)
-New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes)
-New Mexico
-Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
-Oklahoma (possibly only if created before 11/1/98)
-Pennsylvania (if established before 1/1/05)
-Rhode Island
-South Carolina