Common Law Marriages Still Exist in Oklahoma
Video Transcribed: Did your company’s HR rep accidentally marry you and your significant other without you knowing about it? Believe it or not, it happens. I’m Oklahoma attorney James Wirth, and I’m about to tell you about how common law marriages can be established without you knowing it.
All right, so common law marriage exists and is live and well in Oklahoma. So how do you enter into one? Sometimes it’s very simple. Basically what the law says is that you have to have an agreement to be married and you have to cohabitate.
There’s no specific amount of time you have to be cohabitating, and the agreement doesn’t have to be written down or anything. So what is the evidence primarily of you being in a common law marriage? It’s holding yourselves out to the public as being married. And what are the primary ways?
Well, the first way is through filing taxes married. The second most popular way, and this one is actually even stronger evidence, it’s having health insurance together with your significant other. And we see this come up all the time without people knowing about it until they’re contacting us about some other issue. And we find out you entered into a common law marriage.
So what happens is is you’ve got your job, or maybe it’s your significant other’s job, and you’re going over the health insurance and it talks about how to get maybe your significant other or maybe your mutual kids together on it and they’ve got a little form for you to fill out and say, well you can’t get her on because you’re not married to her unless you sign this form. And that form they have you signed is an affidavit of common law marriage.
And some people don’t understand the significance of that because they think, Oh well. common law marriage, you can sign this document if we need to get out of it and we can sign another document, common law divorce. Well, common law divorce doesn’t exist. So to get out of a common law marriage you have to go through a normal divorce process with the court.
So by signing that affidavit of common law marriage, you are telling everybody, including the HR department and the laws that govern all that insurance, that you are married. And that establishes it by holding yourselves out as married, which means that if you end up splitting apart, you’ve got to go through a divorce process.
So that’s a fine thing to do if you want to do that. But it’s just important that you know the consequences of signing that document. It is a real marriage at that point, just like if you had a marriage certificate, because the law doesn’t allow you to put your significant other on your health insurance unless you’re married under those circumstances.
So be careful what you do. Read those documents. If this is a situation that you’re in, don’t just take the general advice from a video on the internet. Contact an attorney, talk about your specifics. We do handle consultations. If you’d like to speak with someone at my office, go to makelaweasy.com.