We are just living together – Common law marriages and Michigan divorce law

We are just living together – Common law marriages and Michigan divorce law:  More people are choosing not to marry, and well, just live together.  For some, marriage is the end of freedom – after all, marriage is supposed to be forever.  Others choose to live together in monogamous relationships and consider marriage merely a legal formality.  They may consider themselves married but for the legal document.


One thing is clear, if you never marry you don’t have to worry about divorce.  Clearly, many marriages end in divorce.  The same is true for relationships in couples that choose never to marry.  The facts remain, many relationships fail, married or otherwise.

Unfortunately, Michigan divorce law is clear.  The Michigan Supreme Court in Van v. Zahorik  (1999) held that a relationship short of marriage is not entitled to legal recognition.

Many states recognize common law marriage.  A common law marriage is a marriage without getting a marriage license.  Typically, a couple lives together for a period of time and hold themselves out to friends and family as being married without really getting married.  In these states, the common law marriage would be entitled to legal recognition.   Notwithstanding, Michigan abolished common law marriage in 1957. 

Therefore, people who live together and combine resources cannot gain access to Michigan divorce laws to divide property, debts, seek alimony or obtain other benefits of marriage.  Michigan requires you to be married.

If you live together and do not want to marry, you may want to consider entering into a contract which sets forth what would happen if you break up.  These contracts are called cohabitation agreements and if properly written are enforceable documents.

About Findling Lawdivorce and christmas

I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.

That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

We want to help you manage your situation. Let our exceptional legal team help you . . .


Local: +1 (248) 399-3300 – toll free:   (877-YOUR FIRM)

After hours emergency?:  +1 (707) 968-7347

Or email me at:   Daniel@Findlinglaw.com

By:  Daniel Findling

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