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Illinois Common Law Marriage

What Is Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

Common-law marriage is the legal union of two individuals who live together and present themselves as married without a marriage license or ceremony. Common-law marriage serves as an alternative for couples who want to avoid the costs and formalities required of a traditional wedding. Similar to the conventional form of marriage, common-law marriage provides marital rights and entitlements to individuals involved. Some of these rights include:

  • Healthcare benefits
  • Right to property division
  • Right to inheritance
  • Right to spousal support upon the termination of the relationship
  • Right to jail or prison visitation
  • Right to hospital visitation
  • Right to child custody upon the termination of the relationship

While a common-law marriage may provide the benefits listed above, there are a few disadvantages. For instance, it is difficult to prove the existence of the relationship. Proof may be needed when a party is dead and there is no documentation to back up claims.

Marriage in Illinois

In 2019, Illinois had a marriage rate of 5.2 marriages per 1,000 persons and a divorce rate of 1.3 divorces for every 1,000 residents. A survey of the state’s residents aged 15 or older showed that in 2019, 50% of all males were married, higher than the 47% recorded for women. The same survey also revealed that divorce for females was higher at 11% than the male rate of 9%.

Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Illinois does not recognize common-law marriages originating within the state. However, Illinois recognizes all common-law marriages created in states that consider them valid, in compliance with the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In addition, the state can grant a divorce for a common-law marriage created in other states where the type of union is legal.

What Are the Requirements for a Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

Illinois does not provide requirements for common-law marriages as this type of marriage has been nullified since 1905. Also, the state does not offer alternative arrangements to couples who do not wish to be legally married. However, Illinois recognizes marriages established in states with laws that allow such unions. In most states, requirements for a common-law marriage include the following:

  • Both parties are not in any type of marriage with other persons
  • Both persons intend to be seen as married
  • Both persons are capable of consenting to the union
  • Both parties are not related by blood

How Many Years Do You Have to Live Together for Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

The state of Illinois does not allow common-law marriages in its jurisdiction. Therefore, unmarried persons who live together, no matter how long, cannot be considered legally married. A marriage is only valid in Illinois when couples obtain a marriage license. Any requirements for cohabitation length depend on the state where the marriage was established.

What Does It Mean to Be Legally Free to Marry in Illinois?

A person legally free to marry has met the state’s requirements for traditional marriage. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the state only recognizes a formal marriage. Therefore, to qualify for a formal marriage, the following must be true:

  • Each party is at least 18 years old (Younger parties must meet requirements for parent/guardian consent)
  • Both persons are not related
  • Each person is eligible to enter into a civil contract
  • Neither party is legally married to another person

What is Intent to Marry in Illinois?

An intent to marry is a form or letter showing the commitment of partners to become husband and wife. The state of Illinois does not require intending couples to write a letter of intent or fill a form. However, it is a requirement at the federal level for couples who seek residency in the United States via marriage. This is applicable when one of the partners is not a citizen of the country.

What Is an Informal Marriage in Illinois?

An informal marriage is the same as a common-law marriage. It is a term used in Texas where both formal and informal marriages are allowed. Although Illinois does not allow common-law marriages created within the state, it recognizes the validity of a common-law marriage that started in other states where this union is legal. For instance, a couple that established an informal marriage in Texas will be recognized as common-law married in Illinois upon relocation.

How Do You Prove Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

The best way to prove a common-law marriage in Illinois is to provide a written agreement signed by both parties involved. Other methods include the following:

  • Testimonies from people who know the couple and have seen them refer to each other as husband and wife
  • A document showing that one partner has adopted the other partner’s name
  • Proof of joint leases or rental agreements.
  • Evidence that both partners live in the same residence.
  • A birth certificate naming both partners as parents to a child
  • A loan or mortgage document financed by both partners
  • Affidavit from people or family members who are aware of the relationship

How Do You Prove Common Law Marriage in Illinois After Death?

A widowed partner can prove the existence of a common-law marriage with a deceased spouse by providing documents that support such claims. In a situation where there is no signed document, the widowed partner may provide statements from persons such as the deceased’s relative, acknowledging the existence of the relationship. Common-law marriage claims in Illinois are only valid for unions that occurred in states where such marriages are legal.

Third-party websites may provide a convenient solution to obtaining related public records. These non-governmental platforms come with intuitive search tools that help simplify the process of accessing single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. To obtain public marriage records, requesters may need to provide:

  • The full name of both spouses (include first, middle, and last names)
  • The date the marriage occurred (month, date, and year)
  • The location where the marriage occurred (city and county)

Do Common Law Marriages Require a Divorce?

Common-law marriages require a divorce to legally dissolve the union. Illinois recognizes common-law marriages from other states where such a union is valid and oversees the divorce proceedings. A partner may claim rights to property division, spousal support, and child custody. More often than not, divorce proceedings for common-law marriages are smoother if both partners signed a prenuptial agreement.

Does a Common Law Wife Have Rights in Illinois?

A common-law wife has marital rights in Illinois. The state of Illinois does not only recognize common-law marriages that occurred in other states where they are valid but also preserves the rights of partners involved. Couples in common-law marriages have rights to property division, spousal support, and more.

Can a Common Law Wife Collect Social Security in Illinois?

A common-law wife can collect social security in Illinois if the common-law marriage is considered valid. Common-law couples who wish to obtain social security may submit a statement of marital relationship form and statement of blood relation form. Information required from the couple may include the date they started living together, duration of cohabitation, the location where they lived, etc.

Are Common Law Wives Entitled To Half in Illinois?

Common-law wives in Illinois are entitled to the same marital benefits as those in formal marriages. In a divorce, the rights of both parties are protected as long as the marriage occurred in a state where common-law marriage is recognized. In most cases, property acquired during the marriage is shared equally. However, this may apply if there is a signed prenuptial agreement that states otherwise.

How Do You Get a Common-Law Marriage Affidavit in Illinois?

Couples cannot obtain a common-law marriage affidavit in Illinois as the state does not consider such a union valid in its jurisdiction. A common-law couple can only obtain a marriage affidavit in states where such a union is valid. The notarized affidavit will serve as proof of the common-law relationship for the partners involved. Information required from the couple usually includes:

  • The state where both partners decide to be husband and wife
  • The date the decision was made.
  • Each partner’s age at the time of the union
  • Record of previous formal or informal marriages. If any, the involved partner may be required to submit evidence that the previous marriage has ended.

When Did Common Law Marriage End In Illinois?

Illinois nullified common-law marriages in 1905. Unmarried Illinois residents who live together and engage in sexual intercourse may be guilty of illicit cohabitation. Unmarried persons in Illinois do not have equal rights to property division and other benefits enjoyed by legally married couples.

What Is Considered Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

Illinois does not permit common-law marriages created in the state. Individuals who wish to marry must do so by obtaining a marriage license and observing other formalities. Marriages of individuals who do not follow this process are considered invalid in the state. However, Illinois recognizes common-law marriages that occurred in other states where such is legal.

Does the Federal Government Recognize Illinois Common Law Marriages?

Yes, the federal government recognizes all common-law marriages that occurred in states with supporting laws. Examples of states where common-law marriages are valid include the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.