If you are common law married do you have to file for divorce?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If you are common law married do you have to file for divorce?

I’ve been engaged for 28 years to the same man we lived together but recently I found out he was

cheating. Can I get alimony?

Asked on November 20, 2017 under Family Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF you met the criteria to be considered common law married, then yes, you would have to file for divorce: once a common law marriage is formed, it is treated like any other marriage, and so can only be ended by divorce.
Your state (SC) was one of the very few that still allowed common law marriage. If you were together for 28 years you *could* be common law married if both of the following applied--just being together for years and years is not enough, by itself, to make you common law married:
1) You both considered yourselves to be married (not just engaged) and held yourself out to others as if you were married.
2) You were both eligible to get married (e.g. not currently married to anyone else; mentally competent).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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