Guide to Common Law Marriage in West Virginia
Common Law Marriage: West Virginia
Common-law marriage laws have never existed in the state of West Virginia, and the state has specific marriage requirements. Until recently, the court would not even consider property division settlements or other settlements often heard by a court for divorce and marriage settlements.
Now, common law marriage laws still forbid the type of marriage, but a court may now recognize the marriage within a divorce or settlement procedure in certain circumstances.
Marriage Requirements in West Virginia
Marriage requirements according to §48-2-301 through §48-2-303 prohibit the following types of marriages:
• both parties must be at least 18 years old (unless parties 16 or older have met marriage requirements and obtained parental permission)
• where a man tries to marry his mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, half sister, aunt, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter, first of second cousin
• where a woman tries to marry her father, grandfather, brother, son, grandson, half brother, uncle, brother’s son, sister’s son, first of second cousin
• marriage requirements do not apply to first and second cousins related through adoption
As you can see, marriage requirements disallow many types of marriage, but common law marriage laws will be recognized in certain circumstances. Cases in which a common law marriage in West Virginia will be recognized are described in the section below.
Determining the Validity of Common-Law Marriages in West Virginia
Although there are few laws addressing common-law marriages in West Virginia compared to laws for marriage requirements, 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 according to their common law marriage laws.
In order validate the common law marriage in West Virginia, the court will consider several factors in certain cases like a divorce or separation proceeding. The court will usually consider the following aspects of West Virginia law on the common law marriage:
• the two parties actually cohabitated in an out of state jurisdiction
• the out of state jurisdiction had established common law marriage laws and 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 WV to recognize their common law marriage laws in an out of state jurisdiction, the two couples are usually advised to sign power of attorney documents before thinking a common law marriage in West Virginia will have any validity in a court hearing. Two couples will normally establish a durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney with help of a qualified legal professional to try and have a common law marriage in West Virginia stand.
If couples in recognized common-law marriages come to an agreement about the division of property along with other marriage requirements in a future separation in an out of state jurisdiction, the state of WV may recognize such agreements. If you are unsure the state will consider the marriage requirements, you should speak with an attorney to help determine if the case may be arguable in court.