Informal marriages, also called common law marriages, have been around a lot longer than many people believe. At one time, the state of Ohio recognized this type of informal marriage as a legal contract.
In short, living together in common law means getting a formal divorce if the relationship ends. In Ohio, common law marriages have been prohibited since October of 1991, but those who entered such a marriage before that time must still get a legal divorce.
To be clear, it is not enough to move in together to be in a legally recognized common law marriage. The couple must reside together for a certain amount of time (depending on location), behave together like married couples, introduce themselves as married and intend to get married at some point. In many cases, cohabitating couples must also commingle their funds for paying bills, making large purchases and for managing their daily living expenses.
It might seem like getting divorced is easier when you do not have that troublesome divorce decree, but that is rarely the case. As in traditional marriage, common law spouses have the same legal issues that complicate other divorces. For example, they must engage in property division proceedings just like other married couples. If children are an issue, the complications become even more important because now the court must take the best interests of the kids into account.
Many common law couples attempt to handle their divorce without legal assistance. If the relationship was on the short side, the break-up a mutual goal, and the couple has few assets and debt, a do-it-yourself approach could be successful. However, unexpected hurdles and conflicts often arise even in the friendliest of break-ups. Seeking representation by a divorce attorney experienced with common law relationships gives you the right legal resources to strengthen your case.
To sum up, common law marriages still exist in and out of the Franklin region. Unfortunately, these marriages are not nearly as easy to end as they once were. All couples wanting to end an informal marriage will benefit from legal assistance.