The state of Utah does not recognize so-called “common-law” marriages. However, Utah allows individuals, couples, or even third parties to petition the court to recognize a relationship as a marriage, even absent a traditional marriage ceremony. The court can approve or deny the petition at its discretion. Once the court issues its decree, then the relationship is formally recognized as a marriage.
There are several reasons that you might have for wishing to have your relationship legally recognized in the state of Utah. You may have split up and are looking to divide your property legally; the petitioner can file both a petition to recognize a relationship as a marriage and a divorce petition at the same time. You may need to claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Perhaps you need this type of recognition in order to claim insurance, retirement, survivor, or public benefits or to inherit property. If you don’t have a reason to need the marriage to be backdated, then just getting married is a cheaper and faster process than asking the court to recognize a historical relationship as a marriage.
What Conditions Must Be Met?
Before the court can approve a petition to have a relationship recognized as a marriage, certain conditions must be met. Petitioners must be prepared to provide evidence that the relationship constitutes a marriage because it is between two people:
- Are of the age of consent and legally allowed to marry
- Have the capacity to enter into a solemnized marriage without legal impediments (for instance, they are not close relatives)
- Live together or have lived together
- Treat one another as if they are a married couple
- Present themselves in a way that the general public believes them to be married already
Who Can File the Petition?
Either partner or both partners can file the petition to have the relationship recognized as a marriage. Next of kin can also file.
When Can the Petition Be Filed?
The petition must be filed either during the relationship or within one year after the end of the relationship, either due to a separation or death.
What Constitutes Evidence of Consent?
To form a marriage agreement in Utah, both parties must provide consent. This can be provided by filing the petition together. However, a written agreement, testimony of people who were present when an agreement was made about marital responsibilities or purchasing and owning property jointly are all types of evidence that have been accepted by the courts in the past. Declaring the relationship in a will or deed while living together and filing joint tax returns are also types of evidence that can be used. In addition, maintaining joint bank accounts or credit accounts can be used for evidentiary support.
Can We Help?
Recognizing a previous relationship as a marriage can be complicated, necessitating the skills of an attorney who is well-versed in family law. Our Salt Lake City family law attorney at Emy A. Cordano, Attorney at Law, can help. Contact our team now by dialing 801-804-5152, or click here to set up a legal consultation.