What is “common-law marriage” and how does it apply in Virginia? “Common-law marriage” occurs when a couple live together and hold themselves out as married but never go through the formal legal requirements required by the state, such as getting a marriage license and/or having the marriage solemnized in a wedding ceremony.
Virginia does not recognize common-law marriages where the relationship is created in Virginia. However, Virginia does recognize a common-law marriage that is valid under the law of the jurisdiction (state or country) where the common-law relationship was created. So, for example, Virginia courts would recognize a common-law relationship that was created in District of Columbia, which is one of a few jurisdictions that recognize common-law marriages, in a divorce action brought forth in Virginia courts.
Unfortunately, there have been a few instances where parties believed they were even officially married but later discovered that the license was not properly submitted prior to the marriage ceremony, which has resulted in the Virginia court not recognizing a marriage existed. Therefore, the court was unable to provide alimony to a deserving spouse and divide property that would have otherwise been equitably distributed between the parties had the marriage been deemed to be valid.
Given the possible ramifications, which can arise in these situations, it is strongly suggested that parties speak to an attorney. Dua Law Firm has the experience and expertise to help a party navigate these issues. If interested, then please contact us today to schedule a consultation.