What Is Common Law Marriage in Kansas?
Common law marriage, also known as informal marriage, is a legally recognized relationship that exists between couples who have not obtained a marriage license or had a formal wedding ceremony. While common law marriages were more prevalent in the past, many states, including Kansas, still recognize them under certain circumstances.
In Kansas, a common law marriage is valid and legally binding if three elements are met:
1. Mutual Agreement: Both parties must agree to be married and present themselves as a married couple. Simply living together or having a long-term relationship does not automatically qualify as a common law marriage.
2. Cohabitation: The couple must live together continuously and openly as husband and wife. They must share a common residence and portray themselves as a married couple to the public.
3. Intent: The intent to be married must be present. This means that both individuals must have the intention to establish a permanent, exclusive relationship akin to a traditional marriage.
It is important to note that Kansas does not have a specific time requirement for common law marriages. While other states may stipulate a minimum number of years that a couple must cohabitate before the relationship is considered a common law marriage, Kansas does not have such a requirement. Instead, the focus is on the couple’s intent and actions, indicating a marital relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q: Can same-sex couples have a common law marriage in Kansas?
A: Yes, same-sex couples can have a common law marriage in Kansas, as long as they meet the three elements mentioned above. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, granting same-sex couples the same rights and recognition as opposite-sex couples.
Q: How can we prove that we have a common law marriage?
A: While there is no specific documentation required for a common law marriage in Kansas, it is advisable to have evidence supporting your claim. Examples of evidence may include joint bank accounts, shared property, joint bills, or testimonies from friends and family who can confirm your relationship.
Q: Can we divorce if we are in a common law marriage?
A: Yes, common law marriages can be dissolved through divorce, just like traditional marriages. The process involves filing a petition for divorce, division of property and assets, and determining custody and support if applicable.
Q: Can we have a common law marriage if we are under the age of 18?
A: No, Kansas law requires both parties to be at least 18 years old to enter into a common law marriage. Exceptions may be granted if a court finds that it would be in the best interest of the underage individual.
Q: Do we need to register our common law marriage with the state?
A: No, there is no requirement to register a common law marriage in Kansas. As long as the three elements of a common law marriage are met, the relationship is legally recognized.
Q: Do we receive the same legal rights and benefits as formally married couples?
A: Yes, once a common law marriage is established, the couple is entitled to the same legal rights and benefits as formally married couples. This includes inheritance rights, tax benefits, spousal privileges, and the ability to make medical decisions for each other.
In conclusion, common law marriage in Kansas is a valid and legally recognized relationship if the three elements of mutual agreement, cohabitation, and intent are met. While it does not require a marriage license or formal ceremony, it carries the same legal rights and responsibilities as a traditional marriage. Understanding the requirements and implications of common law marriage can help individuals navigate their legal rights and obligations within the state of Kansas.