Common law marriage is an old concept that still holds ground in many countries and eleven states but not in Minnesota. In common law marriage, the parties never actually go through the process of becoming married through the church or state, but reside together and hold themselves out to the rest of the world as a married couple. For states that recognize common law marriage, there is generally a minimum period of time that the parties must live this way before it is considered a “marriage” by the state (i.e. 7 years). Once you are deemed “married”, you must go through the court process to terminate the relationship.
Common law marriage is not recognized in the state of Minnesota at all, but if parties have resided in a state that recognizes common law marriages, the courts will take it into consideration. In Minnesota, even though common law marriage is not recognized and you do not have to go through the court process to terminate your relationship, you may still have some protections that are afforded to married couples. The rights just may not go through the family court system at all. For example, if parties own real estate together and both names are on the title, there are contractual rights that the parties are able to enforce even though they are not married. This would be done in the general civil court system rather than a family court, and the parties are able to enforce any terms of their agreement.
Also, if parties have a child/children together, there are rights that come from being a parent. Parties do not need to be married in order to have custodial rights to their children, nor to collect any form of child support to help in financially supporting their children. If you have been in a long-term relationship but never officially married your partner and have questions about your rights, contact a family law attorney at H&L today for a free consultation.