Can Two People Who Are Married at Common Law File Taxes Jointly?

By Jimmy Verner

There are two types of marriages in the United States. One type of marriage is the ceremonial marriage. A ceremonial marriage takes place when the parties obtain a marriage license, then celebrate their marriage before an official who has the power to perform marriages. The other kind of marriage is marriage at common law. Only a handful of states allow common law marriages when the spouses agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out to be husband and wife.

There are two types of marriages in the United States. One type of marriage is the ceremonial marriage. A ceremonial marriage takes place when the parties obtain a marriage license, then celebrate their marriage before an official who has the power to perform marriages. The other kind of marriage is marriage at common law. Only a handful of states allow common law marriages when the spouses agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out to be husband and wife.

IRS Recognizes Common Law Marriage

The Internal Revenue Code allows a married couple to file a joint tax return. To determine whether a couple is married, the federal government looks to state law. The Internal Revenue Code allows a couple that claims to be married at common law to file jointly if they are living together in a common law marriage in a state that recognizes common law marriages. The Internal Revenue Code also permits a couple that married at common law in a state allowing common law marriages to file a joint tax return even when they now live in a state that does not recognize common law marriages.

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Does Colorado Recognize Common Law Marriages?

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Legal Separation for Common Law Couples

A common law marriage is a union formed by two people without the involvement of governmental or church authorities. Some states continue to recognize common law marriages but many do not. A common-law couple wishing to legally separate my have better luck if their union occurred in a state where common-law marriages are legal.

Common Law Marriages & Divorce

The phrase "common law" refers to the way you get married, not how you end your union. The term simply means that you didn't solemnize your marriage vows or file a marriage certificate with your state. In all other ways, including divorce, a common law marriage and a "regular" marriage are treated the same.

Common Law Divorces in California

There is no such thing as common law divorce, so California law does not consider you divorced if you are legally married but attempt to divorce by simply separating and saying you are divorced. In fact, California recognizes neither common law marriage, in which a couple becomes married by living together and saying they are married but never formally marrying, nor common law divorce, in which a couple might simply split up without obtaining a divorce through the legal system.

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