There are many couples in Ohio who have been living together for years without formally marrying. It is important to understand that unless you have been in such a relationship for more than 20 years, the State of Ohio will not recognize your relationship as a common-law marriage. In addition, the Ohio courts have held that “although an agreement must exist in praesenti before there can be a common-law marriage, * * * such an agreement may arise from the conduct of the parties in their community and actions, as evidenced by their knowledge. It is not necessary for the evidence to establish an express agreement leading to a contract. It may be established by circumstances from which an agreement can be inferred. State v. Weitzel, 168 N.E.2d 550 (Ohio 1960). Even if a contract must be proved in praesenti, the existence of such a contract without proof of cohabitation, perseverance and reputation would not constitute a common law marriage. In re Estate of Soeder, 220 N.E.2d 547 (Ohio 1966). So why do these common law myths about marriage and divorce exist in Ohio? If you`ve been thinking about getting married recently, but can`t afford traditional ceremonies in Ohio, you need to remember that marriage is not an option under Ohio common law. In Ohio, common-law relationships entered into after October 10, 1991, are invalid regardless of how long the couple lived together.
Cohabitants may establish a cohabitation agreement or a civil partnership. The facts prove that R and W met the requirements of common-law marriage under Ohio law. The parties intended to marry when they were cohabiting; there were no obstacles to their marriage; They claimed to be husband and wife for more than 25 years, and members of the community where they live, including their relatives, believed they were married. They did business in their common name, entered into leases and contracts, and otherwise behaved as a married couple in accordance with their belief that a valid marriage existed at common law. This is also evidenced by the execution of reciprocal wills, in which each party is designated as the spouse and creator of the other party. The subsequent ceremonial marriage would not constitute an obstacle to the validity of a common-law marriage. At Babbitt & Dahlberg, we`ve seen many questions about divorce and marriage over the years, including the idea of a common-law marriage or divorce. The fact is, no matter how long you`ve been together or separated — seven years or more — you still have to be officially married or divorced in the eyes of the state of Ohio for those marriages or divorces to be legal and binding.
And that`s been the case for some time. Let`s say you decided to move to Ohio and settle there after living in one of the states mentioned above or Pennsylvania. You and your spouse were married in a common-law relationship and are seeking confirmation in Ohio to protect your rights. Therefore, you should consult a family law attorney to obtain validation of your marriage under Ohio marriage laws. The State of Ohio will recognize a common-law marriage if all the elements of such a marriage are present. First, there must be a marriage contract per verba de praesenti; That is, the parties must have the current intention to marry and no intention to marry in the future. Secondly, this intention must be followed by coexistence. Third, the parties must impersonate to be married to other members of the community in which they live and have a reputation for being married in that community. In re Redman`s Estate, 21 N.E.2d 659 (Ohio 1939). Dibble v. Dibble, 100 N.W.2d 451 (Ohio 1950).
R, the worker, and W, the plaintiff, began living together in Ohio in 1943, ostensibly as husband and wife. None of the parties had any previously unresolved marriages, and no children were born from that relationship. In August 1965, R was entitled to pension benefits under section 202(a) of the Act. In December 1968, W, as the wife of R. In February 1969, after receiving a marriage certificate, W and R solemnly married. R died in March 1969. I am sure most, if not all, have at least heard of the term “common-law relationship.” According to the legal definition, a common-law marriage is a marriage that does not quite reach the level of a legal and formal marriage, but is created by both parties living together and holding each other as married to their community.