Does pennsylvania recognize common law marriage

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Common Law Marriage in Pennsylvania - Central PA Family Law

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Thank you for subscribing! Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors. Thus, it follows that state courts have the power to declare same-sex relationships to be common-law marriages if they would accord the same status to a heterosexual union.

What is Common Law Marriage?

This is the case in states where common law marriages were abolished prior to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. In Pennsylvania, for example, where a same-sex common marriage will be recognized if contracted prior to January 1, even where Pennsylvania did not recognize same-sex marriages until May 20, Proving a common law marriage status can be particularly important for same-sex couples who have been in a long-term relationship but were prevented from entering into a ceremonial marriage for many years by laws that have since been declared unconstitutional.

An individual may also be able to establish a same-sex common law marriage even where a spouse died prior to same-sex marriage becoming legal in the jurisdiction where they lived.

Even where a couple entered into a ceremonial marriage, they could be eligible for a declaration of an earlier, common law marriage date if they meet the requirements. This is important because some benefits such as Social Security or alimony benefits require a certain length of a marriage in order for a spouse to access such benefits.

Employers Beware: SC Abolishes Common-Law Marriage

This may also be important in the event of the breakdown of marriage, where the length of the marriage is an important factor when considering issues of alimony or equitable distribution. The common law is defined by statute in Pennsylvania. It is the law that was in existence at the time America declared its independence in The leading source for what was the common law in is the four volume compilation by Sir William Blackstone titled Commentaries on the Law of England.

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In any boy 14 years of age could lawfully marry a girl of By statute a man who married a girl under 15 without parental consent could be fined or imprisoned. In the early 18th century another statute was passed that made marriages voidable by parents except where the children were over 21 or parents consented.

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Typically marriage involves either a member of the clergy or a public official conducting a ceremony intended to confirm the public assent of the couple being joined in marriage. But a common law marriage was one intended to solemnize marriage for people who were not formally churched or too distant from places where public officials could be found.

It required only the capacity to marry i. But that Act exempted Jews, Quakers and did not affect colonists in America. So in America and, particularly in Quaker Pennsylvania, marriage could be recognized whenever the celebrants were of age and expressed words of present intention to be married. In America this evolved into acceptance of marriage without clergy and without the requirement of a license or a public ceremony.