Quick Guide to Common Law Marriages in Georgia
Are Common Law Marriages in Georgia Legal?
Although common law marriages in Georgia are no longer recognized by the state, some common law marriages still hold validity within the state. According to Section 19-3.1.1 Common-law marriage; effectiveness:
“No common-law marriage [in Georgia] shall be entered in this state on or after January 1, 1997. Otherwise valid common-law marriages entered into prior to January 1, 1997, shall not be affected by this Code section and shall continue to be recognized in this state.”
In some cases, there may be exceptions to this Georgia law for a common law marriage.
Other Types of Invalid Marriages in Georgia
Apart from common law marriage in Georgia after January 1, 1997, other types of marriages hold no validity in the state of GA. These invalid marriages are listed below:
• a parent has married a child, a parent has married a stepchild, a grandparent has married a grandchild, or an aunt or uncle has married their nephew or niece
• either party did not have mental capacity during the contract
• either party was under 16 when they entered the marriage
• either party was forced into the marriage
• either party entered into the contract using fraud
• there was bigamy
Determining the Validity of Common Law Marriages in Georgia
Although there are few laws addressing common law marriages in Georgia, a court may also consider the validity of the marriage upon two conditions: the man and woman have signed power of attorney papers while in the relationship, and the marriage was contracted in a state and district that recognized such a union.
In order validate the common law marriage in Georgia, the court will consider several factors in certain cases like a divorce or separation proceeding. The court will usually consider the following aspects of the common law marriage in Georgia:
• the two parties actually cohabitated in an out of state jurisdiction
• the out of state jurisdiction had established common law marriage requirements
• the date of actually declaring the specific type of marriage can be established by the court
• if no common law marriage laws exist within the other jurisdiction, the court must determine if there were any power of attorney documents signed prior to the cohabitation
If two couples want the state of Georgia to recognize their common law marriage in an out of state jurisdiction, the two couples are usually advised to sign power of attorney documents before declaring the common law marriage in Georgia. Two couples will normally establish a durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney with help of a qualified legal professional.
If couples in recognized common law marriages in Georgia come to an agreement about the division of property in a future separation in an out of state jurisdiction, the state of Georgia may recognize such agreements. If you are unsure the state will recognize the common law marriage in Georgia, you should speak with an attorney to help determine if the case may be arguable in court.