Ending a Common Law Marriage

Ending a Common Law Marriage

In some states, including Utah, couples are considered married after being living together for a long period of time, sharing finances, and hold themselves as married. Common law couples act just as married couples, except they are not required to get a marriage license, and have a traditional ceremony.  If you choose to end a common law marriage, it’s important you understand these laws and find experienced legal representation from a Salt Lake City divorce attorney


Some requirements in common law marriages in the State of Utah include:

  • Parties are of legal age, at least 18 years old.
  • They cohabited before common law marriage Utah.
  • They can lawfully enter into solemnized marriage.
  • They hold themselves as married even before common law was implemented in Utah.
  • They assume marital obligations, rights, and duties within the common law marriage.



Although there are laws that address common law marriage in the states allowing such unions, some specific things are considered in order to recognize a common law marriage Utah or any other state recognizing common law:

  • The parties signed power of attorney papers while still being in the relationship.
  • The marriage took place in a state where such unions are allowed.

Common law marriage Utah can be validated within another state but some factors such as a separation or divorce are considered. Some things the court generally considers to validate a common law marriage in Utah include:

  • Parties cohabitated either in Utah or another state where such marriages are legal.
  • There are common law marriage requirements established by the out of state jurisdiction.
  • The court can establish the date of the common law marriage.
  • The court may determine whether there were POA documents signed before cohabitation.


The procedure for a getting a divorce it’s exactly the same as married couples. You need to file papers in order for the court to dissolve your marriage and divide property accumulated throughout the years you lived together. If you had children, the court will determine child custody and child support. Alimony can also be petitioned. Some other things to think about are:

  • Property division– If parties can’t agree on how to divide their assets, the court will be able to determine and rule on this issue after receiving submissions from both parties. You can also have a mediator to help you work out a fair agreement on marital property division.
  • Debts– The individual under whose name the debt appears is responsible to pay the debt. Sometimes agreements can be made where one of the spouses can pay a specific debt. However, the primary borrower is always responsible to pay off the debt, even when the other party fails to pay as agreed.
  • Divorce may not be necessary– In some cases, a divorce may not be necessary if the couple has only lived together for so long and have only a few joint assets, friendly breakups in couples with no children, or a relationship where they can reach an agreement about their property and assets.


Perhaps you want to end a relationship with the person you live with but you are not sure if your union is considered a common law marriage that may require a divorce. Whether you are legally married or not, a separation can be a difficult process. With the help of a Salt Lake City divorce attorney, you will be able to figure out where you stand and move forward to better horizons.


In almost every marriage, couples fight. Even happy couples have disputes from time to time. Sometimes, though, these arguments get out of hand and turn physical. Physical abuse between husbands and wives is never acceptable in Utah. Domestic violence is serious and protections are available for those living in fear of physical or emotional abuse.

According the Ogden, Utah Police Department and local women’s shelters, incidents of domestic violence seem to be increasing. They say more education and further prevention methods are necessary to stop this increase. Last year, the Ogden Police Department had 32 cases of domestic violence during the month of August. This year, that number rose to 44 by month end.

Furthermore, a local women’s shelter has reported that it has had to turn away 45 people — both adults and children — during the month of August because it had reached its capacity of 30 people. This women’s shelter also alleges that there are many more cases of abuse than police are seeing since it averages about four calls a day to its domestic abuse hotline.

In Utah, in order for police to arrest someone for domestic violence, the police need to identify who the primary aggressor was in the fight. Police do this by listening to each party’s story, examining the physical evidence and looking for other signs of abuse. This is not a perfect science and mistakes can be made resulting in people being falsely accused of abuse. Furthermore, when police can’t determine who the primary aggressor was, then the abuser may not be arrested at all.

It is important for people in and around Salt Lake City to understand that they have legal options after a domestic violence incident. There are ways for those who have been falsely accused to clear their name and return to normal life, and there are ways for people to protect themselves from abusers. Taking the correct legal steps is often essential in protecting people and their families.

Free Consultation with a Utah Divorce Attorney

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you. Call now.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Common Law Marriage

A common law marriage is one that can be entered into without a license or ceremony. It refers to the reality that many people live together as if they are married, but never take steps to file official paperwork to make it legal.

This arrangement has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to understand the extent of your rights and responsibilities as a partner in this type of relationship.

In a friendly tone: A common law marriage is one that has been established without the legal formalities of a ceremony or license. The problem for many unmarried couples is that it’s not always clear if their relationship will be considered a common law marriage.

The general rule is that there must be an agreement between two people and an understanding of opening themselves up to the responsibilities of marriage (such as support, fidelity, and shared property). In addition, there must also be some sort of cohabitation (living together) for the relationship to count as a common law marriage.

Probably any family law attorney or divorce lawyer in Utah will tell you: there is no such thing as a common law marriage in Utah. There is a such a thing as a marriage like relationship in Utah. You have to go to court to get this done. You need evidence that you have held yourselves out as a married couple. Call us to talk about how it’s done.

Common Law Marriage

Unsealed Court Records Reveal Insights

The high-profile case of death-row inmate Ron Lafferty just got cracked wide open, with records and court documents from the trial now available to the public thanks to a federal judge’s ruling.  The article in the Deseret News explains why case details, professional opinions and psychiatric evaluations were originally sealed and why opening these records to the public helps to keep our judicial system transparent.

Last fall, several local media filed a petition to unseal the records that would open dozens of documents to the public and lawyers in Utah alike. The federal judge in the current case agreed to unseal the records because he believes that Lafferty is indeed of sound mind and does not suffer from a mental illness “that impedes his ability to communicate and help his lawyers in Utah prepare his case. ” Many of the documents contain medical and psychiatric opinions about the condemned criminal’s mental health and legal arguments over whether he was fit to stand trial and competent to move ahead with a federal review of his case. Sixty-nine documents and 17 formerly secret docket entries have been sprung wide for all to see.

Salt Lake City media attorneys argue that access to the records and documents  promotes accountability and confidence in the judicial process – ideals that are integral to a working justice system in the US, especially in cases such as Lafferty’s, where the penalty is death. With such high stakes, it is imperative that these decisions and rulings not be held in a vacuum of closed courtrooms and secret meetings between privileged judges and lawyers in Utah.

The petition to open the records was filed last October on behalf of the Deseret News, KSL-TV, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Utah Headliners chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The records had been sealed in 2009 at Lafferty’s attorneys’ request when questions about their client’s mental competency began. The attorneys argued that they shouldn’t be forced to disclosed attorney-client information and that Lafferty’s privacy concerning his mental health should be respected. At the time, the judge agreed to seal the records. Salt Lake City media attorney Jeff Hunt didn’t necessarily agree with the move, noting that closing the court records as a default position runs contrary to the First Amendment, which assumes that court proceedings will be open to the public. Lawyers in Utah may claim attorney-client privilege, but the proceedings brought out in a courtroom don’t necessary fall under that designation.  In a case where the defendant’s life is at stake, Hunt saw opening the records as a way to promote responsible decision making. He also said that it would hold the judicial system accountable for its proceedings – a very American ideal, indeed.

Lawyers in Utah look on as this case and its records can now be unpacked by the media, your next door neighbor, and anyone else who wants to weigh in – and most everyone wants to. The case itself is one of extreme notoriety. Claiming that they were directed by God, Lafferty and his brother have been found to have been responsible for the deaths of their sister-in-law and her fifteen-month old daughter in 1984 by slashing their throats. Having exhausted his appeals in state court, Lafferty and his attorneys will prepare for a federal review.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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