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Alabama ends common law marriage

As of the start of 2017, the state of Alabama no longer allows common law marriages. According to WVTM-13, this law, signed by Gov. Robert Bentley last year, does not dissolve any common law  marriages, but it does require unmarried Alabama couples to get a marriage certificate going forward.

Many believe there is a set amount of time a couple needed to live together to be considered common law spouses, but that was actually not the case. Couples were previously able to be considered common law spouses if the following three conditions were met: first, neither could be currently married; second, there was intent to marry, through an act such as jointly filing their taxes or signing a lease together; and finally, the marriage had to be consummated.

Since all previous common law marriages are still intact, WHNT 19 News reports that there is no difference in the law between common law couples and couples who were married with a marriage certificate. If either couple wants the marriage to end, they will need to file for divorce. Marrying someone else without a divorce from a common law marriage is bigamy, a federal crime, so it is crucial common law couples follow the rule of the law and understand their marriages are still legally binding.

At times, divorcing can be more complicated resulting from a common law marriage. In court one spouse may try to argue that there was no intent or agreement to become husband and wife, which requires the other spouse to provide evidence proving the marriage. This is one complication that is removed by ending the practice of common law marriages.

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