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.

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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Every state has its own set of laws regarding marriage, separation and divorce that apply to people who live in that state. In Georgia, these laws are found in the Domestic Relations section of Title 19 of the Official Georgia Code. If you plan to marry in Georgia, the laws define the rules for getting a marriage license, who can perform the ceremony and other state policies related to weddings. If your marriage breaks down, other sections of Title 19 deal with separation, divorce, child support and visitation. In addition to these state-wide laws, each county has its own local rules on filing fees, forms and similar details.

How to Change a Name After a Marriage in Michigan

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If We Divorce & Then Live Together for 3 Months, Are We Considered Married By Common Law in Alabama?

Sometimes, divorced couples decide to try again. They might date, live together and even remarry. For couples who remarry, they often do so in the traditional manner, which involves obtaining a marriage license and participating in a ceremony before a judge or religious official. However, some spouses opt for common law marriage, which doesn't involve these formalities. Alabama is one of only a few states that recognizes common law marriages, but it takes more than simply living together for three months to create one.

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