Is Common Law Marriage Recognized in Arizona? A Comprehensive Guide by Chelle Law
In Arizona, common-law marriages established within the state are not recognized, as stated in Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 25-111. This means that couples who cohabit and consider themselves married without obtaining a formal marriage license will not be granted the legal rights and protections associated with marriage under Arizona law. However, it is important to note that Arizona may recognize common-law marriages legally established in other jurisdictions, provided they meet the respective state’s requirements. For couples residing in Arizona and seeking the benefits of a legally recognized marriage, it is essential to obtain a marriage license and adhere to the state’s formal marriage procedures.
Common law marriage is a topic that often leads to confusion and misconceptions. As a law firm that specializes in criminal defense and family law matters in Scottsdale, Arizona, Chelle Law is here to help you understand the legal status of common law marriage in the state. In this blog, we’ll discuss what common law marriage is, whether it’s recognized in Arizona, and what legal protections are available for unmarried couples living together.
What is Common Law Marriage?
Common law marriage is an informal type of marriage that occurs when a couple lives together and presents themselves as married without going through the formalities of obtaining a marriage license or participating in a marriage ceremony. The specific requirements for common law marriage vary by jurisdiction, but generally, the couple must live together for a certain period, intend to be married, and hold themselves out as married to others.
Is Common Law Marriage Recognized in Arizona?
In short, no, Arizona does not recognize common law marriage. Arizona is one of the many states that have abolished common-law marriage. This means that regardless of how long a couple lives together or if they present themselves as married, they are not considered legally married in Arizona unless they have obtained a marriage license and participated in a marriage ceremony.
However, if a couple has a valid common-law marriage established in a state that recognizes it, Arizona will acknowledge that marriage under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. This means that if you have a valid common-law marriage from another state, you will be considered legally married in Arizona.
Arizona Revised Statutes §25-111 outlines the requirements for a valid marriage in Arizona, which include obtaining a marriage license, having the marriage solemnized by an authorized officiant, and returning the marriage license to the issuing clerk.
Legal Protections for Unmarried Couples in Arizona
While Arizona does not recognize common law marriage, unmarried couples living together can still take steps to protect their rights and interests. Some legal protections that can be put in place include:
- Cohabitation Agreements: A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract between two people who live together but are not married. It can outline each party’s financial responsibilities, property rights, and other expectations for the relationship. This agreement can help clarify each person’s rights and responsibilities in the event of a breakup or other significant life event.
- Wills and Estate Planning: Unmarried couples do not have the same automatic inheritance rights as married couples. To ensure your partner is provided for in the event of your death, it’s essential to have a will or other estate planning documents in place that outline your wishes.
- Powers of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directives: Unmarried couples may not have the legal authority to make medical or financial decisions for each other in the event of incapacitation. By establishing powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives, you can ensure that your partner has the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if necessary.
For more information on common-law marriage and legal protections for unmarried couples in Arizona, check out the following resources:
- Arizona Judicial Branch – Self-Service Center: The Arizona Judicial Branch offers a Self-Service Center with forms and resources related to family law matters, including cohabitation agreements, wills, and powers of attorney.
- Community Legal Services: Community Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm that provides legal assistance to low-income individuals in Arizona, including help with family law issues and estate planning.
Although common law marriage is not recognized in Arizona, it’s essential for unmarried couples living together to understand their legal rights and protections. By taking proactive steps, such as creating cohabitation agreements, establishing wills, and implementing powers of attorney, couples can safeguard their interests and ensure that their wishes are respected in the event of a breakup or other significant life event.
Ensure your rights are protected when accused of a crime in Scottsdale by seeking criminal defense representation from Chelle Law.