Common Law and Common Problems

The Kronzek Firm 

More and more couples are deciding to skip the marriage part and just play house. The economic costs of marriage may seem to outweigh the economic gains to some people. A lot of times, unmarried couples in Michigan remain together for a long time. Many couples consider themselves married even when they aren’t. While Michigan doesn’t recognize Michigan-based common law marriage, many states do. Truth is, being legally married does offer some extra and unique benefits to couples. 

Why do people think there is Common Law Marriage in Michigan?

In the 21st century, we have seen so many people relocate for jobs, academic programs, and family reasons. Very seldom do people live their whole lives in the town they were born. Because of this, a lot of couples that have relocated to our state believe that Michigan has common law marriage. 

This is simply not the case. It doesn’t matter if you are in Ingham County or Clinton County, no Michigan government body recognizes common law marriage if it is based solely on living in Michigan. Even crazier, in Michigan, an unmarried couple living together is technically illegal! However, no one is prosecuted for this, and unmarried, cohabitating couples are all over our state. 

Unmarried, living together, with kids

It is incredibly common for unmarried, cohabitating couples to have kids together. Especially when you have kids, you tend to share financial responsibilities for things in the household. Groceries, furniture, household goods, and other expensive items are often shared between the couple. An interesting quirk in Michigan law is even though we do not recognize common law marriages, our law does not consider the children of those parents to be illegitimate kids. Many decades ago, our courts decided to not “bastardize” children whose parents had chosen to not marry. 

If you split up, it is difficult to determine whose items were whose. These types of disagreements can fuel animosity and create problems for couples considering separation. That’s why our family law attorneys counsel our clients to not accumulate joint assets with a partner to whom they are not legally married. Thankfully, there is a partial solution that sometimes applies in Michigan.

Problem Solved: Living Together Agreements

While Michigan doesn’t have common law marriage that treats cohabitating couples as if they had legally binding marriage documents, there is an option for unmarried couples to protect their individual interests. 

A cohabitation agreement, or living together agreement, can provide a great option for those couples who want to protect their individual interests. These agreements are a relatively inexpensive way to protect assets, inheritances, goods and the like. This is especially true when considered against the often costly backdrop of marriages and divorces. If these agreements are properly drafted, they may be enforced by some judges but there is never a guarantee. 

If you are considering a cohabitation agreement, call The Kronzek Firm! 

We are here to help with your family law questions! If you are wondering about marriage, in the throes of a nasty divorce, or if you want to consider other options, we are ready to support you just like we’ve helped thousands of other clients over the decades.  To set up your free consultation today, call 866 766 5245. We’re available 24/7, including nights and weekends for crisis intervention.