There's no need to be concerned about the idea of a traditional marriage falling by the wayside. The legal, religious, and spiritual act of bringing together two people who love and care for one another is here to stay for the vast majority of people. Nowadays, however, there are plenty of alternative choices for those who want to try something less structured and formal. Read on to find out about three alternative ways to form a relationship.
Common Law Marriage
There are not nearly as many states that legally recognize common law marriage as previously. If you want to live together without making it legal, you should know that even the states that still allow these unions have some rules to follow. You might find it easier to just get married because a common law marriage contains these rules that couples should be:
- Of legal age to marry in that particular state.
- Not already legally married to someone else.
- Put themselves on notice to the town, their families, their places of worship, and everywhere else that they are acting as a married couple.
- Must go through the same divorce procedure as legally married couples do when they split up.
While this method of forming a relationship is easy to accomplish, there may be just as many issues to address when they decide to part ways as that of traditional marriage. If there are children of the relationship, child custody, visitation, and child support orders must be issued and followed. Additionally, if joint debt or property exists, the couple needs to agree upon a division or they might end up in court. To help avoid disagreements about financial issues when a couple parts ways, consider creating a cohabitation agreement with your partner. These agreements set out what the couple owns and owes prior to forming their relationship and what happens to joint property and debts when they split up. Leave issues about minor children off such an agreement, however. State law oversees that.
Not all states recognize this quasi-marriage form of relationships. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships were more common. The main difference in domestic partnerships and cohabitation is that some states bestow rights and privileges on those with domestic partnership agreements that are not found with cohabitation agreements. For example, in states that recognize domestic partnerships, partners are able to make healthcare decisions and inherit property just as a spouse would.
No matter how your relationship is formed, you might want to speak to a family law attorney, like Marlene Dancer Adams, to ensure that your rights to property, your children, and your finances are protected with a legal agreement.