marriage legality

My boyfriend and I have lived together for over a year and everyone knows we are a couple.
Hes not quite ready to get a ring but says we will be together always.
Can we do a ceremony that will make it valid, if not going to the courthouse for legal papers?
Is it common law?
Thanks in advance and sorry if this has been asked before.

Assuming you are in Ohio like your location field says, no luck with common law marriage. Ohio hasn’t recognized it since 1991.

If you want to get married, you need to fill out the proper paperwork. Everything else is just ceremony. The information to get married is here:

… and if you live elsewhere you can take a quick glance at the list of states that still have some form of common law marriage on the books.

Because of the issues of “are they or aren’t they” most states have gotten rid of it.

Every state is going to have their own requirements. My guess is that if you and your boyfriend both sign an affidavit affirming your intent to marry, along with a witness, you could take that affidavit to the courthouse and get it certified. This of course assumes that you are both adults. You will have to check with your local jurisdiction.

Your profile shows you are in Ohio. There’s no longer common law marriage in Ohio although they recognize common law marriages from before 10 October, 1991. (Cite) Without those legal papers you aren’t legally married.

ETA - Even the slow ninjas beat me while I answered the phone

I have no idea what this would accomplish. People “intend” a lot of things. Swearing under oath that you intend to get married doesn’t have any legal consequences.

Marriage is a contract with all kinds of implications for property and financial matters. Sharing a bed is just a convenient arrangement which can be broken at any time with few if any legal consequences.

The salient feature of common-law marriage is that the couple has been displaying itself to the community as two people married to each other. The OP’s relationship would not qualify because the boyfriend sounds reluctant to do that.

That’s probably why her boyfriend likes the not-married status.

Under the eyes of the law, two people are married when they sign the marriage license. All that ceremony with rings, fancy clothes, a minister in a funny hat talking about “wuv, twoo wuv”, is legally speaking completely irrelevant: If you signed the license, you’re married, and if you didn’t, you’re not.

Whether your family, friends, church, etc. will consider you married is a different question, and will depend on your family, friends, church, etc.

Since this is a legal question, let’s move it to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

It would provide you with a weird anecdote about confusing civil service workers.
Other than that, not much.

To the OP. It sounds very much like your boyfriend doesn’t want to be married. There’s no way to make a marriage valid until he does.

There’s almost no chance that your boyfriend has unique or interesting reasons for not wanting to get married - and if he did, it’s almost certain he’d have told you already. The possible reasons you come up with in your first 5-10 seconds of thinking about it are probably right.

It used to though, didn’t it? Banns?

“Reading of the banns” was more to let everybody know what was happening if they had any objections to be raised, like “She’s already married!” or “He’s got another two wives in Stuttgart.” It really didn’t have anything to do with the engagement otherwise. There were a whole bunch of other things that covered that.

Legally, marriage is binary. Either you are married in the eyes of society or you aren’t. What a common law marriage meant was that the state recognized that in your community you were already de facto a married couple, so it vested you with rights even in the absence of civil documentation so that people would be protected by the law.

Some US states have the not-quite-there status of Domestic Partnership or Civil Union to legally recognize some rights and privileges of couplehood short of marriage – but that still requires formal filings and registrations. Ohio does not have these statewide but specific cities such asCincinnati do.

A common misconception, but not so. In Ohio, and in most states, and in most common law jurisdictions throughout the world, you do actually have to solemnize your marriage for it to be legally valid. The solemnisation can be minimal, but it will at least involve an exchange of consents to marry before a solemniser. When you sign and file the paperwork, what you are saying is that you have done this. If you sign and file the paperwork without having done this, then you’re not married; you have just created a false record of a marriage that hasn’t in fact been entered into.

What does solemnize mean? In Pennsylvania the couple can be married without benefit of clergy or civil authority, just by signing the paperwork. I’m in California, and when I went to the county office to get a copy of my daughter’s marriage license, at the next cage a clerk married a couple, with the only other person involved being a witness. She acted in her capacity as a government official. I don’t think that involved any solemnization, if that is even a word.

I feel for you, but I’m confused. Your boyfriend isn’t ready to get a ring but says you two will be together always. By “not ready to get a ring,” do you mean not ready to get married? What do you hope a ceremony would “make valid” and how?

It sounds to me like you want to get married and he doesn’t and you’re looking for a compromise. Best of luck to you.

In most states, a couple goes to the appropriate authority and applies for and receives a “marriage license.” Such a document gives them permission from the government (fodder for another thread) to get married.

They can then take that license to someone authorized in their state to perform marriage, whether that is a preacher, a priest, a rabbi, a notary public, a justice of the peace, etc.

That official then performs whatever duties required by the state to affirm that the couple had indeed entered into marriage: have both consented, it was witnessed, the required waiting period was observed, etc. When the official says, “By the authority invested in me (by God, Allah, or not) and by the State of Whosit, I now pronounce you (husband and wife) married”, or whatever pronouncement is required, the couple is legally married.

The official then returns a certificate of marriage to the appropriate authority and then the state has an official record of the marriage.

States might differ on the exact procedures, but I am unsure of how simply “signing” a marriage license without an endorsement by an officiant could create a marriage, false or otherwise. Perhaps some states have such a loophole, but I am not familiar with it.