Oklahoma Common Law Marriage
There are two ways to become married in Oklahoma. The more frequent method is a traditional ceremonial marriage, in which a certificate is filed with the court. Common law marriage on the other hand requires no court filing or official paperwork of any kind.
The most recent case law in Oklahoma suggests there is only one requirement for a common law marriage to exist. An actual and mutual agreement between the spouses is all that is necessary for the legal status to exist. There is no requirement that the spouses live together for a specific period of time, however living together can be used as evidence that the marriage existed.
Evidence for Common Law Marriage in Oklahoma
Common law marriage must be legally proved. Meaning, you must present evidence to a court that you and your spouse actually agreed to be married. If it cannot be proved, the judge can rule that it never existed in the first place. Proving you are married requires evidence such as:
Legal documents where both parties claim they are husband and wife (commonly tax returns)
Evidence of living together
Openly holding yourselves out to be married
The existence of a wedding ring
A permanent relationship
Joint accounts and jointly titled property
It is important to remember that none of the above factors are necessarily enough to prove that the common law marriage existed in Oklahoma. It is just evidence that it did. A judge may find the existence of the common law marriage with none of the above evidence or with all of it.
FAQ About Common Law Marriage in Oklahoma
Is there such a thing as a common law divorce?
No. You must file a court action to become divorced in Oklahoma even if no document was filed certifying that you were married.
Is the any difference in property division or child custody in a common law marriage?
No. The same rules apply as in a regular divorce. The only difference is that the existence of the common law marriage is harder to prove.
Should I get a divorce?
A common question that arises is whether a person should get a divorce if they could be common law married and no longer want to be in the relationship. The answer is plainly yes. There are several important reasons why.
(1) You are entitled to assets of the marital estate.
(2) A divorce can help protect your assets, even after death. If you die a common law spouse can claim a huge portion of your assets. This is true even if you have a will or a trust that leaves nothing to your spouse.
(3) Tax reasons can also be a factor. If you have been claiming married on your taxes and then suddenly stop without a proper divorce, the IRS may audit you.
Can I get remarried without a divorce?
No. Not only will your new marriage be void but you can actually be charged with the crime of bigamy in Oklahoma.