Understanding Divorce and Common Law Marriage in Rhode Island

Common Law Marriage in Rhode IslandRhode Island is one of nine states that still recognizes common law marriages as legally binding. If two people want to end a common law marriage, it’s possible; however, the process is much different than divorcing from a traditional marriage. If you’re thinking of ending a common law marriage, it’s important to understand how the law sees this type of union and how an attorney can help you with your case.

What Is a Common Law Marriage?

It’s important to dispel the myth that if two people live together for seven or ten years, they are in a common law marriage. Rhode Island has a few requirements before any union can be considered a common law marriage, including that both parties are:

  • of legal age to marry
  • not married
  • of sound mind
  • not closely related to each other

Additionally, the couple must make the marriage public in some way, which could include:

  • calling each other spouse, partner, husband, or wife
  • opening joint bank accounts together
  • sharing a last name
  • sharing finances and property assets
  • writing a contract agreement acknowledging the union

Dissolving a Common Law Marriage

Common law marriages, once formed, are treated like any other marriage—which means a couple in this type of union must file for divorce like a traditionally married couple. However, before you can file for divorce, you and your attorney must work together to prove that the common law marriage actually existed. Usually, this involves providing evidence of the requirements for a common law marriage, including:

  • photos and videos
  • social media posts
  • financial records
  • multimedia communication (i.e., text and email records)

We Can Help

If you’re in a common law marriage and considering divorce and have questions about the process, get in touch with the experienced team of attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum. We can review your situation and offer you smart options. Call us today at 401-946-3200 to speak with a qualified member of our team today or fill out our online contact form for more information.


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