Common Law Marriage Self-Quiz








Justine and Donald have lived together for three years. They have no children. Over the years they have told everyone they were married, but no ceremony was ever performed. Justine wants to terminate their relationship. They live in a state that recognizes common law marriage. What is the status of their marriage?
Choice 1 Since they have no children, a valid common law marriage did not come into existence; therefore, no divorce is needed.
Choice 2 Since they have not cohabited for 10 years, they do not have a common law marriage.
Choice 3 They are considered married and must divorce to terminate their relationship.
Choice 4 They can just petition the court for an annulment.
Esther and Mark enter into a common law marriage in a state that recognizes common law marriage, meeting all the required prerequisites. They are worried about moving to Florida, a state that does not recognize common law marriage for its residents. What will be the status of their marriage after moving to Florida?
Choice 1 Florida will recognize and accept the validity of the common law marriage.
Choice 2 They will have to file a marriage license at the town clerk’s office.
Choice 3 They will no longer be husband and wife.
Choice 4 Florida will recognize their common law marriage if they live there for five years.
Frankenstein and Shelly lived together in Colorado (a common law state). They did not hold themselves out as married. They had children, but used different surnames. They never filed joint income taxes returns. When they moved to Mississippi after a job transfer they told everyone they were married. Shelly soon became tired of her new life and wanted to divorce Frankenstein. Frankenstein filed a motion to dismiss because they were never married. Who should the court hold for?
Choice 1 Frankenstein (i.e. they do not have a common law marriage).
Choice 2 The Mississippi court should independently hold that no marriage at common law exists.
Choice 3 Shelly (i.e. they have a common law marriage).
Choice 4 Neither. A Colorado court must make the determination.
Sharmela and Rohan have entered into a religious marriage in Utah; however, they never obtained a marriage license before the ceremony. In addition, they are aware that Utah recognizes common law marriage. Unbeknownst to Rohan, Sharmela was forced to enter the marriage and never really consented to it. After a few months of marriage, Rohan becomes dissatisfied with Sharmela’s behavior and files for divorce. What will the court rule as to the status of their marriage?
Choice 1 A marriage at common law exists; they held themselves out as married and cohabited.
Choice 2 No marriage at common law exists; Sharmela never consented to the “marriage.”
Choice 3 A legal marriage exists because the marriage was solemnized.
Choice 4 No legal marriage exists because they failed to obtain a marriage license.
Harry and Wilma began living together on July 5, 1958. Harry gave Wilma a wedding band, Wilma adopted Harry’s surname and they told friends and relatives that they had married. Furthermore, they celebrate their “anniversary” on July 5 each year, file joint tax returns and list each other as beneficiaries on their respective life insurance policies. They lived in Connecticut for 20 years and on many occasions spent time in Pennsylvania at their summer home in the Poconos. Connecticut does not recognize common law marriages; Pennsylvania did at the time of their visits. Following Harry’s death, Wilma sought Social Security benefits as Harry’s surviving spouse. The court will grant her the benefits.

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