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JumpyTheFrog

S/O Is it time to get rid of common law marriage?

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Now all states have common law marriage.  Mine doesn't.  Though it does recognize common law marriage in other states. 

 

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/living-together-book/chapter2-4.html

 

Jean's in first. I was going to say, we don't have common law and we can't have domestic partnerships either, so we're just plain old living in sin. We both think of marriage as religious and we're not religious so we'll only get the piece of paper if we have to for economic reasons.

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In NZ I believe it is 3 years living as if you were in a marriage.  Dh's mum & her partner chose not to get married as she had been previously married 2 times.  The first time was to dh's father & that ended in a nasty divorce.  The second marriage ended when her husband died & she went thru a nasty court case when his children contested the will.  So dh's mum & her partner kept separate bank accounts & had nothing jointly owned at all.  When she had a stroke & had to go into a nursing home the gov't treated them as if they were married.  They had been together 26 years.  At that point my m-i-l decided that they might as well get married as keeping things separate didn't keep things simple.  Her partner ended up dying before they could get the ceremony organised & dividing things afterwards was exactly as if they were married.  There was no difference from what we went through when dh's father died & he had married for the 3rd time.  

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But only in those states (or countries) where common law marriage is even a thing.

I guess I just assumed every western country was like NZ. It is either 2 or 3 years of living 'as a married couple' then you have a de facto marriage and the same laws that apply to married couples apply (except you don't need a formal divorce). You need laws because normally rational people start behaving like complete lunatics when property and custody issues are involved.

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That seems FAR too short a time frame. When I mentioned upthread that I thought marriage should be something that one has to actively opt out of after a certain period of time, I was thinking 20+ years. I'm not exactly sure how long my relative and his partner have been together but I know it's been at least 25 years. There's a HUGE difference between spending decades cohabiting with someone and spending a single year with him/her.

Yes, it's far too short.

So, in Ontario you're automatically considered common-law after three years of living together in a conjugal relationship. BUT - - Canada Revenue Agency considers you common-law after TWELVE MONTHS. So, in terms of family law (separation etc) you're common law after three years. But for taxation reporting purposes, I had to file as common-law after only one year of living with my partner.

 

I think...and this is just my assumption....the reason that our taxation peeps consider a relationship common-law after such a short period is because our child tax benefit (known commonly as 'baby bonus') is based on the household's income as reported to CRA. When I was a single mother with a deadbeat ex-husband, this was no small pocket change - it was the only way I was able to make ends meet even after working 40+ hours a week. So I imagine that the gov't is trying to avoid paying someone the max amount of Child Tax Benefit to someone who has a second income coming into the household.

 

That's what makes sense to me, anyway. For people who are lower income, any subsidy or assistance or help USUALLY requires you to show the income as reported to CRA - so the higher combined household income means you get less (or no) subsidization.

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Yes, it's far too short.

So, in Ontario you're automatically considered common-law after three years of living together in a conjugal relationship. BUT - - Canada Revenue Agency considers you common-law after TWELVE MONTHS. So, in terms of family law (separation etc) you're common law after three years. But for taxation reporting purposes, I had to file as common-law after only one year of living with my partner.

 

 

For some years, the UK has had no filing-joint provision for spouses.  Each person is taxed on their own income.  Child benefit (£20 per week for first child and £14 per week for subsequent children) is not assessed as income by the tax authorities unless you or your spouse are higher earners, and it can be claimed by either parent; it is beneficial for it to be claimed by a non-working parent as, up until the eldest child turns eleven, the person claiming child benefit will get automatic state pension (like SS) contributions paid by the government out of general taxation.

 

There has been some tinkering with the separate-filing rule recently so that £1,000 worth of write-offs can be transferred from a low earner to a higher-earning spouse, but otherwise each individual is taxed on their earnings.  If it is a joint income (for example, Husband and I jointly own a rental property) the income is split 50/50 between us and we are each taxed at our own rate on that portion.

Edited by Laura Corin

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I would prefer to see a clearer separation between legal (state) marriage and religious marriage.  I know people who, for various reasons, want to make a religious commitment for marriage but think that they should be able to do that without the state getting involved.  State marriage is a contract with certain pre-set stipulations that most people entering into marriage don't realize--and don't realize how much those can vary from state to state.  If someone wants to enter into a contractual relationship with another person, I think they should be able to set the terms of that contract.  

 

This sort of thing always feels like an underhanded way of snubbing non religious people.  I could be wrong and misunderstand the intention here, but I don't see the point at all in such a distinction.

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Lol not to mention presumptuous - I mean, yes we shared our rent and bills etc, but we definitely didn't have joint accounts or any shared property (house, car etc). 12 months is a bit speedy for the gov't to decide we're married. IMO anyway. I mean, we've lived together now for just about 6 years so as far as we're concerned, we're fine with now being considered common-law. I was pretty miffed about it at the beginning though.

How did they even know?

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I don't get the point of common law marriage.

People who want to formalize their union should have the opportunity to do so through a deliberate act. Marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, whatever format exists and fits their need.

One should not be able to slide accidentally into a contractual relationship, just by passing some expiration date.

I guess though we also have various squatters rights laws etc which are similar

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How did they even know?

They wouldn't, unless you were to get audited for income taxes. If I shared an address for more than 12 months with someone else, and they found we were listing ourselves as single - instead of common law - we could get in trouble, particularly if I was using my "single" status to access services or subsidies. Those would all have to be repaid.

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