Guide to Common Law Marriage in Oregon
Many cohabiting couples believe that their relationship qualifies as a common law marriage in OR. If you believe you are in this type of relationship, or you want to know how to enter into a common law marriage in Oregon, you need to understand the state's marriage laws. This guide will teach you about current laws surrounding common law marriage in OR so that you can be informed about your own rights in a cohabiting relationship. For more in-depth information or legal advice about your specific situation, you may want to contact a family Oregon lawyers who can answer your questions about common law marriage in Oregon
History of Common Law Marriage
Common law marriage began in England centuries ago. Although most couples in medieval times married in a church, marriages were considered valid according to the country's unwritten (“common”) laws even if a couple had said their vows privately, without witnesses. In many U.S. states, the common law tradition continued, and couples who cohabited and “held themselves out” as husband and wife by taking the same name and filing joint tax returns could be considered common law married.
When a couple had a common law marriage, they were allowed all of the rights of married couples. They also were required to file standard divorce papers and could not break up their relationship without going through divorce proceedings. Unlike most states, common law marriage in OR was never approved by the legislature or judiciary.
Is Common Law Marriage in Oregon Currently Legal?
Common law marriage in OR, like in several other states, has never been a recognized arrangement. While nothing prohibits a cohabiting couple from describing each other as husband and wife, no legal recognition for common law marriage in Oregon exists and couples will not have the protections of marriage regardless of how long they have cohabited or whether they have children.
Because there are no statutes legalizing common law marriage in OR, couples who have been cohabiting do not have to file for divorce (and in fact, a divorce petition would be rejected by the courts).
Alternatives to Common Law Marriage in Oregon
Many people do not know that there is no legal common law marriage in OR, and believe they have the protections of marriage when in fact they do not. If you want to have some of the benefits of a common law marriage in Oregon without actually taking wedding vows, you may have to consult with a family attorney. A family attorney may be able to help you and your partner establish a partnership contract, medical power of attorney, or other legal relationship that can give you some similar benefits to marriage.
Out of State Common Law Marriages
While common law marriage in OR is not recognized if the marriage is contracted in the state, ten states and the District of Columbia do still allow common law marriages. If you were legally common law married in another jurisdiction, you can still continue your common law marriage in Oregon.