Common law marriage Maine is not recognized, and you cannot process a new common law marriage in Maine. However, if you entered a common-law marriage in any other state or foreign country that recognizes common-law marriages, your marriage will be recognized in Maine.
Read this complete guide as we discuss the requirements for proving your common law marriage and the alternatives you can go for instead.
Does Maine Recognize Common Law Marriage?
No; common law marriage Maine is not recognized. Although common law marriages exist in other states and the State of Maine recognizes them, creation of such unions is prohibited in Maine. Couples have to get married in a traditional ceremony to become legally married.
Common law marriages established in other U.S. states are recognized in Maine. Meaning that if a couple living in Texas established a common law marriage and later moved to Maine, their common-law marriage will be recognized by the state.
But local residents of Maine cannot have a married status by establishing common law in Maine. It is important to note that although common law marriage is illegal, Maine recently passed statutes that allow cohabitation and the establishment of domestic partnerships.
– Proving Common Law Marriage in Maine
To prove a common law marriage in Maine, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence in court to convince the judge that a common-law marriage existed. You’d need documents and public records to prove that your common-law marriage is genuine.
Some important documents that will help you prove a common law marriage are:
- Jointly filed taxes
- Joint mortgage
- Joint bank accounts
- Social security benefits
- Testimonies from community
- Cards or texts that prove you are married
Proving that a common-law marriage existed in Maine is necessary to get a divorce. Then, to separate from a common-law marriage, you and your spouse need to file for divorce. Getting a divorce is essential if you want your spouse to divide the shared assets or their assets equitably or if you want to receive alimony.
The divorce laws of the U.S. state in which your marriage was created will apply to you. If one spouse denies being married to you, proving your common law marriage in court will become hard. In the matters of child custody and child alimony, the courts do not differentiate between married, unmarried, or common-law married parents. The court will decide what the best interests of the child is.
– Social Security
Common law marriage is not legally allowed so spouses in common-law marriages do not get social security benefits in Maine. Therefore, the state does not offer conveniences for married couples to common law couples. To receive social security benefits in Maine, the couple must marry formally.
However, you can receive social security spousal or survivor’s benefits in a state that allows such unions. To prove that you and the deceased have a common-law marriage, you will have to prove the marriage existed. To prove your common law marriage in court, you’ll have to present documented evidence and testimonies that support your claim.
– Property Rights
Common-law spouses have property rights in Maine at the time of divorce because the laws of the state where the marriage was created will apply to them. You must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there is a valid common-law marriage. Once the court deems the marriage valid, divorce proceedings will begin.
Before the division of assets, the court will take into count several factors that influence the decision of the court, such as the length of the marriage, income of both spouses, domestic abuse, adultery, and other problems leading to the annulment of marriage.
Additionally, only the marital property will be equitably divided in the event of divorce. The property that you and/or your spouse acquired after your marriage will be equitably distributed. This is different from separate property that belongs to the owner alone such as property they owned before marriage, inheritance, and gifts received before or after marriage.
Maine doesn’t allow the establishment of common law marriages under the marriage laws in Maine, but common-law marriage that is established in another U.S state will be recognized in Maine. To establish a common-law marriage in U.S. states that allow the establishment of common law marriages, you must abide by the rules of common law marriage where you formed the union.
Some general requirements for couples to form a common law marriage are:
- Must be 18 years old or older
- Must not be married to other people
- Must live together
- Must not be related to each other
- Must have the mental capacity to get married
The common-law marriage is where a couple lives together, exchanges wedding vows and introduces each other as husband and wife to others. A common law marriage, as opposed to a formal or conventional marriage, does not involve a formal ceremony or obtaining of a marriage license or certificate.
Common law marriages in the U.S. became legal in the end of the 19th century. Some U.S. states still recognize them while others abolished such unions. In the past, the arrangement suited people living in small colonies that were far away from other habitations.
Establishing common law marriage did not require eyewitnesses or a marriage officiant so couples could exchange vows among themselves and tell the community that they have married.
In the 21st century, finding eyewitnesses and an officiant to marry a couple isn’t difficult. But couples choose to enter common-law marriages because it benefits them in several ways without having a formal marriage.
Couples can establish common-law marriages without a formal ceremony or marriage certificate. Some major benefits to common-law couples are:
- Reducing taxes through tax deductions and exemptions for married couples
- Social security benefits for spouses
- Joint bank accounts, mortgage, and loans
- Jail or prison visitation rights
Some major drawbacks of having a common-law marriage instead of a regular marriage is:
- There is no documentation of marriage
- Proving common law marriage can be difficult (especially if a spouse dies or refuses to accept being married)
Common-law marriage is not allowed in Maine, but some states that allow common-law marriages require couples to live together in the same house for a certain period of time. U.S. states that allow common-law marriages such as Texas, Alabama, and Iowa do not have a time period requirement.
To establish a common-law marriage, a couple must have exchanged vows when they had a “capacity” and “present intent” to get married. This means that the couple was legally free to get married and exchange vows to take each other as husband and wife.
A popular misunderstanding in understanding common law marriages is that the couples must live legally married after 7 years to have a common-law marriage. This is not true because common law marriage exists if the couple married each other. This means the capacity to get married and exchange vows (with present intent).
A couple could have established a common-law marriage by living together for only a few weeks, while a couple will not have established a common-law marriage even if they lived together for decades but never exchanged vows or had the capacity to get married.
Alternatives to Common Law Marriage in Maine
Although common law marriages are strictly forbidden in the state of Maine, you can apply for a domestic partnership with your partner in order to get legal protection when it comes to children’s guardianship, domestic abuse, inheritance disputes, and other issues.
– Domestic Partnership
A domestic partnership means two heterosexual or same-sex individuals live together as lawful partners. They have the same rights as married couples. The couple in a domestic partnership is provided legal protection in matters of guardianships, conservatorships, probate, domestic abuse, inheritance, and others.
Maine passed the domestic partnership bill in 2004, which allowed same-sex and heterosexual couples to form domestic partnerships and have legal rights similar to that of married couples in the state. To enter a domestic partnership, both partners must be:
- Adults (above 18 years of age)
- Legally domiciled in Maine (for a period of 12 months or greater)
- Mentally competent
- Not related to each other
- Should not be married or in a domestic partnership with other people
To end a domestic partnership and become unmarried domestic partners, the couple must file a notice that consents to the termination at the registry. One partner willing to end the partnership can also dissolve the partnership through a notice of intent to end the partnership.
Common law marriages are not allowed to be processed in Maine. To dissolve common-law marriages in Maine, you will need sufficient evidence to prove that a common-law marriage existed in court.
- Common law marriages are not permitted in Maine.
- Maine recognizes common-law marriages created in other U.S. states or foreign countries.
- In the event of divorce or death of a spouse, the law jurisdiction of the state in which the common law marriage was formed will apply to the couple.
- Maine allows cohabitation and domestic partnerships.
The best way to ensure that you receive the best outcome for your annulments of marriage or inheritance case in court is to hire an attorney who has the right experience and your best interest at heart.
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