Rhode Island is one of a few states which continues to recognize common-law marriage. There is no specific time period that the parties must reside together, instead the existence of such a marriage must be established by clear and convincing evidence that the parties seriously intended to enter into the husband-wife relationship. Additionally, the parties must have been of such a character as to lead to a belief in the community that they were married. A formal ceremony is not a prerequisite to the existence of a common-law marriage.
When determining whether the parties seriously intended to enter into a husband-wife relationship, the Rhode Island Family Court Judge will look to the following factors:
The party asserting the existence of common law marriage has the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that there existed a belief in the community that the parties were married.
If you are recognized as a married couple by common law you could enjoy many of the same benefits as legally-married couples such as:
Should your relationship be irrevocably broken, the Rhode Island Family Court would possess jurisdiction to terminate the marriage, make an award of assets and liabilities, order the continuation of health insurance, divide retirement benefits, and award spousal support.
Should you wish to assert the existence of common law marriage, or if you have been served a Complaint for Divorce alleging the same, you need to speak to a Rhode Island Family Court Attorney experienced in handling such matters. Contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel to discuss your common law marriage issues at 401-737-4200 x23.