Almost every state in America has some type of state law that deals with However, while most states have state laws that define the concept of a putative spouse, only two states recognize both common law marriages and putative marriages. These states are Colorado and Montana. Their definitions of putative marriage are still significantly similar to the definitions provided by the state laws of other states.
A typical way of defining a putative spouse would be as any individual who lived with another person under the pretense of marriage, while believing that he or she was married. According to most state laws, the putative spouse is expected to file for a divorce when the fraud is discovered. When a putative spouse finds out that the marriage is a fraud, he or she becomes aware of the fact that he or she is not really married and is not allowed to sue for any asset that is acquired after this time.
State laws concerning putative marriage exist to protect the putative spouse. Since the putative spouse is the one who believed that the marriage was legally binding, it is generally thought that they should be protected as much as any legitimate spouse would be under regular marital laws. A state law regarding division of property will affect a putative spouse in the same way that it would a regular spouse when seeking financial gain at the end of a marriage. A spouse going through a divorce has the same rights regarding joint property as a putative spouse.
The main difference in laws regarding putative spouses and laws regarding divorced spouses is the length of time for which the suing spouse can claim division of property. A spouse seeking a divorce can try to obtain property that was acquired before and during the marriage. A putative marriage is over as soon as the putative spouse finds out about the fraudulent activities that void the marriage. Putative spouses usually are not granted any asset that was acquired before the putative marriage began.