More couples are living together than ever before. Most, though, aren’t prepared for when tragedy or unexpected issues happen. In this post, Dartmouth, Massachusetts attorney, Andrew Garcia, reveals the 3 life events that most cohabiting couples simply aren’t prepared for and how that lack of preparation can leave each partner financially crippled.
First Life Event: Breaking Up
Judge Judy is famous for cautioning that when you live together “you’re playing house.” Since Massachusetts doesn’t recognize common law marriage, she’s basically right: there’s no rule book for when you break up.
Massachusetts does not recognize the doctrine of “common law” marriage. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve lived together, it could be 7 years or 70 years, you cannot have a marriage under common law in Massachusetts. This is true for both heterosexual couples and same sex couples.
Only a limited number of states in the United States recognize common law marriage – nearby Rhode Island happens to be one of them. Generally, though, in those states that do recognize common law marriage it isn’t the number of years living together that matters, it’s usually the “intent” of the couple. They must intend to be considered to be married, they must act like they are married in the community, and they must live together (the length of time usually doesn’t matter).