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Does Kansas Recognize Common Law Marriage?

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Marriage is a legal institution that brings together two individuals in a recognized and formalized union. Traditionally, marriage has been associated with a ceremony and legal documentation.

However, there is another type of marital relationship called common law marriage.

What is Common-Law Marriage?

Common-law marriage is an informal marriage recognized by some states in the United States, granting the couple the same legal rights and responsibilities as formally married couples.

Common law marriage refers to a relationship where a couple lives together, presents as spouses, and intends to be considered “married” without obtaining a formal marriage license or participating in a formal ceremony. The recognition of common law marriage varies from state to state within the U.S., with some states recognizing it as a valid form of marriage while others do not.

What Does the Law Say?

Kansas does recognize common law marriage. However, the current recognition of common-law marriage is based on legal precedents established through court decisions, not explicitly defined in laws. These precedents guide how the courts interpret and apply the requirements for common-law marriage.

Criticisms of Legally Recognizing Common-Law Marriage

Some people see common-law marriage as an outdated concept from when living together before marriage was still widely frowned upon. Proponents of changes like stopping the legal recognition of new common-law marriages argue that undocumented unions of this sort make legal processes like divorce and settling estates after the death of a partner more complicated.

Therefore, as new cases arise and legal interpretations evolve, the precedents surrounding common-law marriage may be subject to change. Seeking legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about common-law marriage in Kansas is crucial.

Requirements for Common Law Marriage in Kansas

A couple seeking common-law marriage must meet some requirements for their union to be legally valid.

To establish a common law marriage in Kansas, certain key elements must be fulfilled:

Must Be Eligible to Marry

In Kansas, both parties must be at least 18 years of age and have the mental capacity to enter a marriage. This age requirement detail is one of the few statutes codified into law. There should also be no legal barriers to marriage, for example, a previous marriage that has not been legally dissolved.

Must Agree on Terms of Relationship and Act Like A Married Couple

To be considered common-law married, a couple must mutually consent to be married and “hold themselves out as spouses” to the public. This can be shown in many ways, whether referring to each other as their spouse, having a family together, sharing a last name, and emotionally and financially supporting each other and their families.

If the friends and family in your life would call you married if asked to describe your relationship by someone who didn’t know you, you could have a good case for being common-law married in Kansas.

The couple must agree on the terms of their relationship and follow through on their agreements. They have discussed their needs in the marriage, and they fulfill the roles their partner expects from a spouse.

Cohabitation Requirements in Kansas

In some states, couples seeking to be common-law married must live together continuously and satisfy the cohabitation requirement. However, cohabitation is not required in Kansas for the common-law union to be legally recognized. Living together may help demonstrate your shared life as a married couple and contribute to your case, but it is not essential.

Legal Rights and Responsibilities in Common-Law Marriages

Once a common law marriage is established in Kansas, the couple is entitled to the same legal rights and responsibilities as couples in formally recognized marriages. They have the right to inherit property from their spouse, access health care benefits, and make medical decisions for each other. Some people in common-law marriages make a sworn statement called an affidavit to document that they name their spouses as their dependents.

In case of a separation or divorce, the couple must go through a legal process, just like formally married couples, to divide their property and address custody and support matters if they have children. However, the lack of documentation sometimes present in common-law situations can make this process more complicated and disputes more likely.

Laws Can Change, Make Sure You’re Informed

Laws and regulations can change over time. You don’t want to find out you don’t have the legal rights of a spouse when the worst has happened to your common-law partner. For example, you could find out your spouse is seriously injured and discover you no longer have the right to make medical decisions on their behalf when you arrive at the hospital.

The requirements for your common-law marriage to be recognized could be met now and then change in the future, altering what protections your relationship has. Therefore, staying updated on recent developments regarding common-law marriage in Kansas is essential.

Contact Barnds Law Today For Legal Guidance About Your Relationship

While common law marriage is recognized in Kansas, couples must meet the specific requirements outlined by the state to establish a valid union and stay up to date on these established guidelines. There may be situations where a typical marriage would better fit your needs, and you don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

If you need help to understand your relationship situation, the legal implications, and the requirements for common-law marriage, contact Barnds Law LLC today for a consultation. We can be reached at (913) 514-0909. Let us review your situation and ensure your relationship’s legal protections meet your needs.

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