Blogs from March, 2019

Most Recent Posts from March, 2019

2 Misconceptions About Common Law Marriage


Iowa is one of the few states in the country that still recognizes common law marriage. However, there are many misconceptions about this practice. For example, many couples believe they have the same rights, obligations, and responsibilities as a married couple just because they’ve lived together for seven years. In reality, there are no strict rules or guidelines when it comes to establishing a common law marriage. 

To help you understand more about common law marriages, the West Des Moines divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw have compiled this summary of information.

Misconception #1: The Requirements for a Common Law Marriage

There’s a long-standing myth that couples automatically become common law spouses after living together for 7-10 years. However, Iowa doesn’t necessarily care how long a couple has lived together so much as the quality of their relationship.

A common law marriage is only valid under the following conditions:

  • The couple lives in the same home and has a romantic relationship
  • The couple is in a heterosexual relationship
  • The couple lives in their community as a married couple
    • Introducing each other as “husband” or “wife”
    • Wearing wedding bands
    • Sharing a surname
    • Raise children together
  • The couple files joint tax returns
  • The couple maintains joint bank accounts
  • The couple are on each other’s insurance policies or retirement plans

Misconception #2: “Common Law Divorce”

There is no such thing as a “common law divorce,” nor can a couple part ways without going through the standard divorce process. For instance, one party still needs to file a petition for divorce and make legal determinations regarding child custody, child support, property division, and alimony. The divorce can be finalized once these marital issues are resolved and the court validates that the common law marriage exists.

Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today.

Contact the The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw if you’re planning to file for divorce or have questions about common law marriages. Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the various laws and regulations that typify divorce and family law cases. Our firm can guide you through each step of your unique legal journey and make sure you have the financial resources to enjoy the next chapter of your life.

Call The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw at (515) 200-7571 to schedule a free consultation.