Legal Question in Family Law in Montana

Common Law Marriage in Montana

My relationship falls under common law marriage in montana, he refered to me as his wife and I his husband, we both wore rings, though we had agreed to have a formal ceremony next summer. Many people counted us AS married, the only thing we didn't do is file jointly because he didn't work last year.

My question is I need to know the law about common law marriages in Montana that apply to this. We started having small issues that blew up into soap-opera perportions and I think that by presenting us as a marriage that needs work, he'll stop to think instead of trying to freak out and bail suddenly especially if we HAVE to go through a divorce. He has even given me his last name when we have talked. I need help. I don't want to use it if I don't have to, but to quit a relationship that was excellent over misunderstandings because of fear is a little extreme.

Asked on 9/23/07, 2:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Carolyn J. Stevens CJ Stevens|Law

Re: Common Law Marriage in Montana

Common law marriage is a valid marriage in Montana. You're right, ending a CLM must be by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.

Montana law recognizes a marriage by common law when:

-- the parties agree to be married (not to "get" married in a ceremony but to live as H&W from now forward).

-- you must hold yourselves out as married (you took his last name, you wore rings, you called each other wife and husband)

-- you must have the reputation of being married ("many people counted as as married")

It's likely that your relationship will fall under Montana's definition of and requirements for a valid common law marriage.

If that's the case, then even if one of you simply walks away, the marriage will continue. To end the marriage, one of you will have to file a petition for dissolution of marriage.

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Answered on 9/23/07, 4:07 pm

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