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Is There Common Law Marriage in Tennessee?

If you’re wondering about splitting up as a couple who is married by virtue of common law in Tennessee, you should know that the situation can be complicated. The reality is that the State of Tennessee does not recognize common law marriages, no matter how long you’ve been a couple, and divorce law only pertains to couples who are dissolving a legal marriage.

There is one caveat to Tennessee’s approach, however, and this is that if you qualify as being in a common law marriage in another state that recognizes these marriages and move to Tennessee, the state will afford you the same status. If you have questions or concerns regarding common law marriage and divorce, a dedicated Tennessee divorce attorney can help.

Your Split

If you thought that you and your significant other were in a common law marriage in Tennessee, decide to split up, and are concerned about how you will divide your belongings in your upcoming split, there are some basic guidelines that generally apply and that can help, including:

  • Everything that is in your name alone will remain yours.
  • Everything that is in both of your names will be split down the middle unless the presumption of one-half ownership can be disproved.
  • Decisions related to your shared children will proceed through family court.
  • If you have a cohabitation agreement in place, the court will recognize this contract between you and your significant other.

Common Law Marriages from Other States

If you are married by virtue of common law and move to Tennessee, the court will uphold your marriage, but it’s often more complicated than it seems. In making its determination regarding whether or not it will recognize your out-of-state standing as having a common law marriage, the court will carefully consider whether or not you actually achieved this status in that other state (according to that state’s common law marriage laws). If the court’s interpretation of the other state’s laws finds that you are, indeed, in a common law marriage, the dissolution of that common law marriage will proceed just like any other divorce would.

The General Requirements for Common Law Marriage

The general requirements to achieve status as having a common law marriage involve some combination of the following:

  • You and your significant other hold yourselves out (and present yourselves) as a married couple.
  • You and your significant other share the same surname.
  • You and your significant other file your taxes jointly (and have a history of doing so).
  • You and your significant other have children together.
  • You and your significant other name the other as your spouse for the purposes of employer-covered health insurance.
  • You and your significant other have interwoven your finances, including having joint bank accounts and owning property together.

An Experienced Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney Can Help

The Murfreesboro divorce attorneys at Dotson & Taylor are committed to helping you obtain a just resolution to your divorce claim that supports your financial and parental rights. Establishing out-of-state status of being in a common law marriage is difficult, but our legal team is well prepared to help. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.