A brief guide to common law marriage in North Dakota
In order to take advantage of the fiscal and insurance advantages of a relationship, two people who are in a relationship need to have their status validated by the law. Common law marriages in North Dakota are not recognized, as is the case in all but ten states and Washington D.C. This means that you will need to undergo a formal marriage if you are the resident of the state.
Common law marriage in North Dakota is not recognized for many reasons. This kind of marital arrangement rests on several conditions:
• Both spouses must represent themselves to other people as husband and wife. While this will not be sufficient to lead to common law marriages in North Dakota being recognized, it is sufficient proof in other states. However, if husband and wife decide to separate, they will need to call upon witnesses to prove that they have established their relationship. By not recognizing common law marriages in North Dakota, the state court system lowers the bar of proof for a couple. Simply presenting a marriage certificate is sufficient grounds for establishing the relationship.
• A common law marriage in North Dakota would theoretically allow two spouses to file their taxes jointly, have joint insurance coverage and take advantage of other such relationships. However, when their relationship ended, the resulting litigation could make it difficult for the courts to decide how to divide their assets. This is another reason why common law marriages in North Dakota are not recognized.
It is important to be aware of North Dakota law if you are in such a relationship in another state and move. Since common law marriages in North Dakota will not be recognized as a legally binding relationship, you and your spouse will not be able to continue such an arrangement upon relocating. Therefore, it is important to agree with your spouse what steps will be taken. To retain the rights of common law marriage in North Dakota, you will need to undergo a formal marriage.
Doing so will require you to apply for a marriage license. Until you have received this document, common law marriages in North Dakota will not be recognized and you will no longer be considered husband and wife. After being issued this document, you may proceed with the ceremony. Until it has been performed, your common law marriage in North Dakota will be irrelevant in the eyes of the court system.
If you move to the state but do not get formally married, it is important to draft a legally binding will if you wish your spouse to inherit your assets in the event of your death. Since common law marriages in North Dakota are not recognized, your will must specify that your partner is to inherit. Otherwise, they will not have an automatic claim to your estate. Probate courts will not recognize your common law marriage in North Dakota. Unclear wills or failure to leave on may leave your spouse disinherited.