Common Law Marriage and Divorce in Utah

Utah Common Law Marriage

In 1987, Utah passed a common law marriage statute.  The statute applies to marriages entered into after 1987.  Prior to 1987, Utah did not recognize common law marriages so there could be no divorce of a common law marriage.  The statute allows a court or administrative order to establish that a marriage was entered into.  When the marriage was found to have existed, the marriage is lawful at the time it was entered into, not at the time of the court or administrative order.  There is no length of time required to establish the marriage.

Evidence of a common law marriage must be presented before the ordering body.  No single element is determinative.  Parties must show consent, legal age, capacity to consent, capacity to marry, cohabitation, assumption of marital rights and duties, that they are a man and woman, and a general reputation as husband and wife.  Most of the elements can be proved or disproved rather easily by a family law attorney.  Consent may be the most difficult to prove if one is deciding if divorce is necessary.

Consent to a Common Law Marriage in Utah

A preponderance of evidence standard is applicable when determining a valid common law marriage, and not by a clear and convincing evidence standard.  The best evidence of a marital consent would be a signed, written agreement.  In reality, however, this kind of clear, identifiable evidence does not exist.  However, a witness’ testimony about the beginning of a marriage could be persuasive.  Usually a common law marriage doesn’t have a clear beginning though; people begin cohabiting and continue to do so.  It is difficult to prove the parties consented to be married.

Customary proof of marital consent under the common law is general reputation, cohabitation, and acknowledgment. Utah’s statute is different from the common law though.  General reputation, cohabitation, and assumption of marital rights and duties are independent elements; therefore, under the Utah statute, other evidence of consent is required.  Individuals in a common law marriage must consent to the marriage.

Utah Family Law Lawyers Help With Divorce

If you want to end a relationship with someone whom you are cohabiting, and don’t know if you have a common law marriage necessitating a divorce, call the family law attorneys from Salcido Law Firm.  The lawyers from Salcido Law Firm law firm will help you through the difficult process of divorce and ensure your rights are protected.  Call them today at 801.618.1331 for your free consultation.

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