Utah doesn’t have a common law marriage process so to speak as some other states do. Rather, you can petition a court to recognize your relationship as a marriage even though you may not have ever had an actual marriage ceremony. In Utah we refer to this process as seeking judicial recognition of a relationship as a marriage. To initial the process you must file a petition with the court and be able to prove the following:
- Both you and your partner are of legal age and capable of giving consent;
- You are both legally capable of entering a marriage (neither one of you are already married, or related, etc.);
- You have lived together (no specific time required);
- You treated each other as if you were married;
- Held yourself out as man and wife.
If you can prove all of the conditions exist, you might succeed in court in having your relationship recognized. Of course it is much easier if the other party does not contest and agrees to have the relationship recognized. More often than not, however, one party does not agree and the petitioning party brings the action after the parties breakup. Another important issue to keep in mind is that a petition must be brought during the relationship or within one year after the relationship terminates.
The Requirement of Consent
The law in Utah requires that the parties must have consented to the relationship as a marriage. This is often where the court battle ensues. One party often argues they never consented to a “common law marriage” while the other party argues consent in one of the following ways:
- Proof of a written agreement;
- Testimony of witnesses who can attest to an agreement;
- Joint bank accounts;
- Joint ownership of property;
- The woman taking the man’s last name or joint children taking the man’s last name;
- Filing joint tax returns;
- Referring to each other as being married;
- Declaring each other as married in certain legal documents.
If the petitioning party can prove any of these circumstances existed, they have a real chance at proving consent and succeeding in the action. To have your particular circumstances reviewed by Provo Divorce Lawyer, call or email us right away.