A brief guide to common law marriage in Louisiana
Along with Washington D.C., there are only ten states that legally recognize common law marriage. However, common law marriages in Louisiana are not recognized by judges or the court system. Therefore, if you move from another state in which this arrangement is valid, you may need to consider the possibility of getting formally married.
Louisiana law on common marriage is not recognized for many reasons. States which allow for this arrangement require several conditions from people in this kind of relationship:
• Spouses who are in this kind of relationship must both present themselves to other people on a regular basis as husband and wife. However, doing so will still not lead to the validity of common law marriages in Louisiana being recognized.
• Both spouses must be able to legally marry, meaning that they are both of age, in good mental condition and not too closely related. However, meeting all of these requirements still not allow for a common law marriage in Louisiana to be recognized.
Spouses who are involved in this kind of benefit are allowed all the same benefits as those who have a formal marriage certificate, such as filing joint tax returns. However, couples who wish to enter into common law marriages in Louisiana to take advantage of such rights will not be able to.
It is important to note that if you have entered into this kind of relationship in another state, it may be possible to preserve your status if you move. While common law marriage in Louisiana is not an option for those who are already residents, the court system will generally recognize such an agreement if it has already been initiated in another state.
Couples who move to the state and then wish to obtain a divorce may have some difficulty establishing the validity of their relationship. Since common law marriages in Louisiana will only be recognized if they were established in another state, a spouse who seeks alimony payments or couples who have minor children will need to establish the prior recognition of their status. This frequently will require calling in witnesses who can testify that both husband and wife presented themselves as such. Arranging transportation for these witnesses to confirm common law marriages in Louisiana will add to the expense of divorce proceedings.
Another concern you may have if involved in this kind of relationship involves the handling of your assets after your death. Since common law marriage in Louisiana is not recognized, your property will not be automatically be inherited by a spouse. To ensure that your wishes regarding inheritances are respected, it is best to draft a will detailing how you wish for your assets to be divided. This way, even though spouses may have difficulty establishing their rights to inherit as members of common law marriages in Louisiana, they will still receive their fair share of your estate without having to establish the relationship in probate court.