If a couple is considered common law married, are they still considered

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a couple is considered common law married, are they still considered

They were considered common law in OH prior to 1991. The woman has used

her spouse’s surname, as well as her maiden name interchangeably throughout their marriage. However, there was no legal name change that I know of. The woman signed her spouse’s surname when they bought a house several years ago but they have never filed taxes jointly or shared bank accounts. She requires nursing home care but cannot afford to do so unless it’s on Medicaid. If she applies for Medicaid eligibility does she have to state she’s married? Can she apply just using her info or does she have to have partner’s info as well? And if info from both parties is necessary, can the other partner lose the house?

Asked on July 6, 2018 under Family Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The answer is "yes"--if they were common law married, they are still married for Medicaid eligibility, unless they formally divorced (divorced the same way they would have for a "traditional" marriage). A valid common law marriage IS a marriage--once a common law marriage is established, there is no legal difference between it and any other marriage, and like with any other marriage, can only be dissolved by divorce.

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