Common Law Marriages


Are Common-Law Marriages Valid in New York?

No. New York State does not recognize common-law marriages as valid. Such marriages were abolished in New York since 1933. However, if you have a common-law marriage from another state in which it is deemed legal and valid, that common-law marriage will recognized by New York State as valid in the state in which it was deemed legal.

There are about twelve states and the District of Columbia which allow common-law marriages. The requirements vary from state to state, including the prerequisites for verifying the validity of these types of marriages.

Based on family law in New York State, the court will recognize New York common-law marriages from other states. As an example, all you need to do is to demonstrate minimal contacts with a state that recognizes common-law marriage in order for New York to active that law from the other state. Precedent of legal decisions in NY, have interpreted liberally those requirements shown for a valid out-of-state common-law marriage. These precedent cases in New York found that all a couple has to do was to create a common-law marriage during a short-term stay in a state permitting common-law marriage. In this case, in determining the legitimacy of a common-law marriage from another state, New York State applies the law of that state in which the marriage was contracted.

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Domestic Partnerships

As an alternative to Common-Law marriage, Domestic Partnerships are another form of legal union that is recognized in New York State, besides actual marriage.

The requirements below are necessary for you to register as a Domestic Partnership in New York City:

  1. You must both be New York City residents - or one partner, as least, must be an employee of the City of New York as of the registration date;
  2. You must both be eighteen years old or older;
  3. Neither person is a blood relative or is married – conditions that would bar a New York State marriage;
  4. You must demonstrate that you share a committed and close personal relationship, that you live together, and that you have been cohabitating on a continuous basis;
  5. You have to truthfully show and state on the application form for Domestic Partnership that you share an identical address of residence; and
  6. You must show that neither is in another Domestic Partnership at the time or that you have registered within the last six months in another Domestic Partnership.

If you have questions or concerns about Common-Law marriage or are considering entering into a Domestic Partnership and want to discuss your options, contact matrimonial lawyer, Ingrid Gherman. You can schedule a consultation by calling (212) 741-0767 or filling out and sending the on-line form.

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