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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Legal Separation > Think “Common Law Marriage” Laws Apply to Your Separation without Being Married in Chicago? Think Again

Think “Common Law Marriage” Laws Apply to Your Separation without Being Married in Chicago? Think Again


Most Chicagoans have likely heard the term “common law marriage.” However, perhaps fewer Chicago residents know whether common law marriage applies to them  if they are separating from their significant other or partner. In order to help Chicago couples better understand the concept of a “common law marriage” and whether “common law marriage” laws will apply to their separation without being married, we put together this short article.

Common Law Marriage: What it is and where it is Recognized

Simply put, a common law marriage is a marriage that is legally recognized without the parties to the marriage having gone through the official processes of a marriage, such as a marriage ceremony and obtaining a marriage license. There can be benefits to a legally recognized common law marriage, such as potentially being able to be eligible for certain benefits, such as insurance and financial benefits, that only married couples are entitled to, without having to go through the formalities of a legal marriage. There may also be other tax benefits for couples who are deemed to be married under state common law marriage laws. On the other hand, depending on the state, parties to a common law marriage may not have the same rights as legally married couples when it comes to things like property and other important rights.

Importantly, common law marriage is not recognized nationwide, and a minority of states currently recognize common law marriage. Those states include Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas. Importantly, common law marriage may be recognized in these states on a limited basis, so it is always important to speak with an experienced legal separation lawyer about your specific situation if you are interested in learning about your rights with regard to separating from your significant other or partner without having ever been married.

Common Law Marriage in Chicago

Many Chicagoans will likely be surprised that Illinois does not recognize common law marriage. This means that if you are seeking to separate, but you were never married, you will not be deemed to have the same rights as a married individual when it comes to the separation. In order to protect yourself if you are in a long-term relationship in Chicago, but do not wish to get married, it may be advisable to consider a cohabitation agreement. Of course, it is always best to speak with an experienced Chicago legal separation lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Help with Your Separation in Chicago

If you are seeking to separate from your significant other or partner, and you were never married, contact the experienced Chicago legal separation lawyers at the law firm Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC. The experienced Chicago legal separation lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC, offer a confidential consultation to learn about your specific case and to see if they can help represent you in your separation. Contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to an experienced Chicago separation lawyer about your case today.

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