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Modern Common Law Marriage in Michigan?

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Before January 1, 1957 common law marriages created in Michigan were valid

marriages. To create a common law marriage was quite simple, all you had to do was live together and hold yourself out as being husband and wife. Most states had common law marriage. Today only 4 states have common law marriages and Michigan is not one of them. MCL 5512 ended common law marriages in Michigan in 1957.

However, there are still states that have common law marriages and under the U.S. Constitution they are valid in Michigan if they are valid in the state that has common law marriages and must be recognized here.

So, if you are a couple living together and you take a vacation in a state that recognizes common law marriages you might have been married; if you, while in that state, held yourselves out as a married couple (signed the hotel registration as husband and wife).

In Michigan, there is a strong presumption that a marriage is valid and so the party seeking to prove no valid marriage has to prove that the marriage is not valid by clear and convincing evidence. Magk vs. Stroecker, 243 Mich 668 (1928).

Thus, the party claiming that there was a marriage by common law in another state, and produces a registration from a hotel in that state that is signed by both parties as husband and wife can sit back and watch the other side wiggle to prove by clear and convincing evidence that there was no marriage.

Call 269-381-4471 today for more information.


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