Alabama recognizes common law marriages which are just as legal and just as binding as a ceremonial or “legal” marriage. However, many people do not understand how a common law marriage occurs. It’s amazing the number of times we’ve had clients say “Oh, I’m married – my spouse said we are common law married” or “We must be common law married because we’ve lived together for (fill in the blank) years.” Parties may eat, live, and sleep together for decades without the fear of “waking up one morning married.” To have a common law marriage both parties must have the capacity (legal age and mental capacity) to marry, both must consent to be husband and wife and both must hold themselves out to the public as husband and wife. Once a common law marriage is formed, there is no legal difference in that marriage from a ceremonial marriage. WARNING: be extremely cautious before claiming a common law marriage – Alabama does not recognize a “common law divorce.”
For additional information or to meet with an attorney to determine your marital status, CALL THE LAW OFFICE OF CLYDE T. BAILEY TODAY!