There is currently a proposal in the Kansas House that, if passed, would eliminate common-law marriage beginning this July. If HB 2101 does pass, any common-law marriages that are entered into in advance of July 1, 2017, will still be valid, but no new common-law marriages will be recognized after that date.
Common law marriage is a situation in which two people agree to marry without a marriage license or a formal wedding. Common law marriage has been recognized in Kansas and other states since the 1800s when living together before marriage was frowned upon and there was not always a minister available when couples decided that they wanted to marry. Proponents of HB2101 say that while common-law marriage made sense in the past, times have changed so much that it no longer makes sense anymore. For one thing, the cultural prohibition against living together before marriage has almost completely gone by the wayside. Also, since common-law marriages are not documented, divorce proceedings can be complicated and problematic, which is a big issue in today’s society where the divorce rate is much, much higher than it was over two hundred years ago.
In addition to messier than usual divorce proceedings, common law marriages are more likely than legally recognized marriages to be used to perpetrate insurance fraud or other types of fraud. They can even complicate funerals, if the common law spouse says that they were married to the deceased and other members of the deceased’s family say that the two were never married. Disagreements over whether a deceased was married can delay the funeral until it can be established whether they were or they weren’t because marriage gives spouses certain rights to make decisions regarding funeral plans.
As with any proposed legislation, there are people who support HB2101 and people who oppose it. The people who oppose HB2101 want the state of Kansas to continue to recognize common-law marriage. They feel that marriage is something that should be encouraged and that banning common-law marriage would result in fewer marriages. For people on this side of the issue, fewer marriages is not a desirable outcome in a society where people couple up and uncouple frequently, and families are not as stable as they were in the past when marriage rates were higher.
Common-law marriage may remain a viable option in Kansas or it may not. If you are currently in a common-law marriage and you are considering divorce, it is essential that you seek assistance from a Kansas Family Law Attorney. Getting a divorce in a common law marriage can be complicated, but it is possible. Your attorney can help you know what your rights are, and they can guide you through the divorce process towards an outcome that will work for you. If you have questions about divorce, Kansas Family Law Attorney Thomas McDowell may be able to assist you. Please call us today, at (316) 633-4322 to schedule your initial consultation.