Common Law Marriage Puerto Rico

Common Law Marriage Puerto Rico

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Common Law Marriage Puerto Rico

 

Guide to Common Law Marriage in Puerto Rico

 

There are many misunderstandings about common law marriage in PR.  Many people believe that couples who live together for a certain number of years (usually 7) or who have children together and describe themselves as married have a common law marriage in Puerto Rico.  This guide will help you understand whether your common law marriage in PR is legally recognized and what alternatives you may have to a common law marriage.

 

History of Common Law Marriage in Puerto Rico

 

Unlike most U.S. jurisdictions, Puerto Rico was not originally an English territory.  Common law marriage began in English law in the medieval era, when a couple was considered married any time they had said marriage vows to one another, regardless of whether their wedding was witnessed or officiated.  This tradition of recognizing private marriages in England's unwritten (“common”) law continued in the American territories and eventually was made into law in some states.

 

While many states began to reject common law marriage in the 19th and 20th centuries, Puerto Rico, because of its unique position as a Latin American territory, never had the institution in the first place.  common law marriage in PR simply never got off the ground, and was never implemented in the laws of the territory.

 

Is Common Law Marriage in Puerto Rico Legal?

 

While there is no law against calling yourself married even if you're not, there is no way to initiate a legal common law marriage in PR and never has been.  No amount of cohabitation, filing income tax returns together, or any other action can create a legally binding common law marriage in Puerto Rico.  It is important to understand that because common law marriage in PR is not a legally recognized concept, you lack many of the protections of marriage if you cohabit there without marrying.  

 

Alternatives to Common Law Marriage in Puerto Rico

 

If you wish to have some of the benefits of a common law marriage in PR but are unable or unwilling to have a legally sanctioned marriage ceremony, you may want to talk to an attorney.  In some cases, you may be able to sign contracts with your domestic partner that will allow you to inherit each other's property, attend to them in the hospital, and so forth.

 

The only legal alternative to common law marriage in Puerto Rico that gives you all the rights and responsibilities of a marriage is to have an actual wedding ceremony and obtain a marriage license.

 

Out of State Common Law Marriage in Puerto Rico

 

There is one circumstance in which a couple may be permitted to have a common law marriage in PR.  If you and your spouse were considered common law married in the state where you previously resided, your common law marriage in Puerto Rico is still valid.  This is due to the U.S. Constitution's “full faith and credit” clause, which requires all U.S. jurisdictions to recognize marriages that have been previously recognized by other states.

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