By Johnny Adams
Governor Robert Bentley signed legislation into law on May 3, 2016 that will bring an end to common law marriage in the State of Alabama.
The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2017. Anyone who is common law married prior to January 1, 2017 will be “grandfathered in.”
In other words, those who a common law married prior to January 1, 2017 will remain married after the new law goes into effect. Rep. Michael Jones, R-Andalusia, sponsored the bill in the legislature.
Under the new law all marriages must have a ceremony conducted by an authorized public or religious official and the couple must obtain a marriage License.
According to the Alabama Attorney General website, “A valid common-law marriage exists in Alabama when there is capacity to enter into a marriage, present agreement of consent to be husband and wife, public recognition of the existence of the marriage, and consummation.” Waller v. Waller, 567 So.2d 869 (Ala. Civ. App. 1990). See also, Hudson v. Hudson, 404 So.2d 82 (Ala. Civ. App. 1981), and Attorney General’s Opinion 1992-041.
Also, worthy of being noted, in Alabama there is no such thing as a common law divorce.
Therefore, whether a couple is married during a ceremony and have a marriage license or a couple is married through common law marriage, they must follow the legal steps of obtaining a divorce through a court of law if they desire to divorce.
According to al.com, after Alabama’s new law comes into effect only eight states will remain that allow common law marriages.