A brief guide to common law marriage in Vermont
The state of Vermont only recognizes spouses as being in a relationship if they obtain a marriage license and undergo a legally binding ceremony. Common law marriages in Vermont are not recognized, as is the case in all but ten states and Washington D.C. If you enter into this relationship in another state, you will need to consider getting formally married if you move. Your common law marriage in VT is not valid.
There are several reasons why common law marriage in Vermont is not legally recognized. In states where this is allowed, a husband and wife must both present themselves to other people as such. Where in other states witnesses can be called upon to validate that both partners have taken this state, such testimony still would not lead to legal recognition of common law marriages in Vermont.
In states that recognize such arrangements, couples may jointly file their tax returns and otherwise claim all financial benefits due to married people. However, you cannot enter into common law marriage in Vermont and will need to apply for a license. To convert common law marriages in Vermont into a more formally recognized arrangement, both spouses will need to appear in person at their local courthouse. American citizens age 18 and older will only need government-issued ID to establish that they are of age to convert their common law marriage in VT. Resident aliens will need their passport, as well as a copy of their work visa, in order to convert their common law marriage in Vermont into a formal marriage.
After a ceremony, you should retain a copy of the marriage certificate changing your common law marriage in VT into a formal union. This document will serve as proof establishing your relationship in the event of divorce or a spouse's death. In either case, common law marriages in Vermont are not recognized. A certificate will be the basis of any legal action taken relating to a relationship more formal than a common law marriage in VT.
If you move from another state and do not wish to formalize your common law marriage in VT, it is still possible to ensure they will automatically inherit your estate in the event of your death. Even if your common law marriage in Vermont will not be recognized, you can create a will detailing how you wish for assets and estate to be divided. By creating a will whose language is clear and legally correct, you can help avoid having your estate litigated over in probate court. In doing so, you will make it irrelevant whether common law marriages in Vermont are recognized.
When moving from a state which recognizes this marriage, think about what action best suits you. Some people will not be concerned about losing recognition of their common law marriage in Vermont. For others, it may be necessary to think about getting changing a common law marriage in VT to a formal relationship for financial reasons, to maintain joint health insurance or for other reasons. You must decide whether common law marriages in Vermont should be converted into a formal marriage with a ceremony. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact Vermont lawyers.