is not for everyone. While some people need to stand up in front of family and friends during a ceremony, others like to simply live together as husband and wife, without any documentation to back that up. This latter situation is known as a common-law marriage and although it may work for some people, it is important for anyone that enters into one to understand how to protect their rights.

What Constitutes a Common Law Marriage

Of course, not everyone that lives together is considered to be in a common-law marriage. In most circumstances, people wishing to enter into this type of relationship must:

  • Live together for a certain amount of time
  • Have the legal right to marry
  • Intend to marry at some point
  • Recognize the other person as their husband or wife

Not all states recognize common law marriage and so, the above requirements only apply to those that do.

Illinois Laws on Common Law Marriage

Illinois is among the majority of states that do not recognize common-law marriages. This means that if a couple is in a common-law marriage and they break up, the two people involved do not have the same rights as a married couple would in a divorce. However, Illinois will recognize a common-law marriage if a couple entered into this type of arrangement in another state and then moved to Illinois.

Protecting Your Rights in a Common Law Marriage

All individuals in a common law marriage can and should still try to protect their rights as much as possible. To do this, the couple must draft a cohabitation agreement, which is very similar to a premarital agreement. These agreements can specifically detail how property is to be divided in the event that the couple breaks up, and they offer other protections, as well.

The only issues that cannot be determined through a cohabitation agreement are child custody and child support issues. When unwed parents have a child, the courts will first establish paternity and then make a decision on child custody, parenting time, and child support issues. The court will make these decisions based on the same factors they would use in a divorce. Child custody decisions are always determined by what is in the child’s best interests, and a number of factors, including the financial situation of each parent, are considered when making decisions about child support.

Our Illinois Family Lawyers can Help with Your Agreement

Just like premarital agreements, it is always important to work with a skilled Hinsdale family lawyer that can help you draft a cohabitation agreement to ensure that is enforceable. If you are living with another person and are in a romantic relationship, call our experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. We can help you create an agreement that protects your rights in the event that you dissolve the relationship and that the courts will enforce. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.