My Thoughts On Common Law Marriage – Bulldog Divorce

Reality check – life in the 21st century looks nothing like life did during the 1950s.  The ‘Leave It To Beaver’ paradigm family structure is a relic of the past and today our relationship decisions are governed not by what is ‘ideal’, but what is ‘practical’ and ‘convenient’  Maybe it’s time for law makers to create a form of marriage that is less rigid than traditional marriage and much easier for the couple to opt out of.
 
In today’s fast pace, ever changing world, a high percentage of couples are opting not to marry, but instead are opting to cohabitate.  Couples who choose cohabitation over marriage tend to argue that formal, tradition marriage is too rigid and too hard to opt out of (ie, divorce is too hard). 
 
The problem with this line of thinking is that couples who cohabitate together for years and sometimes even decades tend to build lives together just like a traditionally married couple – they build a home, build careers, save money, acquire assets, and raise children just like a traditionally married couple would do.  Unfortunately though, the assets acquired during the relationship are not treated the same legally as they would be had the couple been traditionally married.  For example, if a traditionally married couple has been married for fifteen years and has acquired $500,000.00 in retirement savings together, then the full balance of the retirement savings is legally treated as if it is a ‘marital asset’ and it is split between the spouses.  On the other hand, a couple who has cohabitated for fifteen years and has acquired $500,000.00 in retirement savings together, the full balance of their retirement savings is legally treated as if it is ‘separate property’ and the full balance is awarded to the spouse whose name is on the retirement account (ie, the non-account holding spouse is left with nothing).
 
Fortunately, I practice law in Oklahoma.  Oklahoma is one of just a handful of states that still recognizes common law marriage.  In the event that one of my clients finds themself in the situation described above where they cohabitated with their partner for years and the partner acquired $500,000.00 in retirement savings during the cohabitation period, then I can successfully argue in the court room that the full balance of the retirement savings is a ‘marital assets’ and should be split between the partner whose name is on the retirement account and my client because the relationship, even though it was not a traditional marriage, was a common law marriage and thus each partner should be awarded their fair share.
http://bulldogdivorce-tulsa-divorce-attorneys.com/