An appeals court in Pennsylvania has agreed that a man and a woman, despite their 22-year relationship, do not have a common-law marriage. This comes after the woman reportedly asked for a divorce and then wanted the man to give her alimony payments.
Reports also claim that the man had asked her if she wanted to get married a few times while they were together. She turned him down. She allegedly said at the time that the certificate of marriage was "just a piece of paper."
Pennsylvania used to recognize common-law marriages, but that ended in 2005. The only reason this case held up at all was because the relationship was so long. Since it started before 2005, it got grandfathered in by the old laws.
Even so, the rules around common-law marriage specifically state that an oral contract, based on mutual desire, is needed. Since the couple never did that, with the woman turning down the proposals, they did not have the evidence needed.
A judge in Susquehanna County originally made the ruling. The woman appealed and took it to the Superior Court. They sided with the judge.
The man was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and he did say at one point that they were married when signing up for health coverage. He now said they were not married at that time, though, but that he only made the inaccurate claim to get the insurance.
As this story shows, divorce cases can be very complex and many details must be considered. It's important to know the current laws and all of the legal options you have.
Source: PennLive, "'She's not my wife,' man says, and Pa. court agrees," Matt Miller, Nov. 08, 2017