There are plenty of people all around us that have been in a long term relationship but have never taken the step of getting married. Friends and family have likely joked that while that couple may not "officially" be married, they've been together so long, it's a common law marriage now. But does common law marriage even exist? Is common law marriage recognized under Maine law?

Chris Ryan
Chris Ryan
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Common Law Marriage is NOT Recognized Under Maine Law

According to Maine.gov, common law marriage is not something the courts in Maine recognize as a legal precedent. Unmarried partners are simply considered unrelated persons and any disputes over debts, real estate, personal property, or anything pertaining to the relationship ending will not be handled in the same manor as married persons going through a divorce.

Shot of a young woman scolding her boyfriend in their home
PeopleImages
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What If People Are Unmarried but Have Children Together?

Maine law has clear language when it comes to unmarried individuals who have minor children together. In the event of a split, disputes over child support, child-parent contact, residence, and more can be resolved through the court with similarities to a married couple going through a divorce. It's called a Parental Rights and Responsibility case, and more information can be found here. 

Vasyl Dolmatov
Vasyl Dolmatov
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Is Common Law Marriage Recognized in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or Vermont?

Yes. New Hampshire has a "domestic relations" statute on the books that allows common law marriage to be recognized. In New Hampshire, 3 years is the minimum amount of time to be recognized as a common law marriage and the statute requires the individuals to be cohabitating and recognizing one another as husband and wife without the official declaration of marriage. Both Massachusetts and Vermont do not officially recognize common law marriage as a legal precedent.


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