Common Law Divorce


Today TaxMama® hears from Susan in the TaxQuips Forum, with an unusual question.  “PA recognizes common law marriages if they started before ’05.  So, if they are now separated, are they doomed to the MFS status until a judge signs a divorce decree? Or, since nothing was filed with the state to begin with can they just say no more and be done with it. Will the IRS accept that? I am amazed at how many people out there just split and never untie their knots.”

 Hi Susan

That’s a good question.

Since the marriage is recognized by the law, I would think they would need to get a formal divorce. In fact this is what Cathy Meyer, the About.com divorce guide recommends.

If you are unsure and have a client in that position, don’t practice law. Refer them to an attorney.

And yes, you make an excellent point. I wonder how many common law couples just walk away from such situations, without filing for a proper divorce. And what are the ultimate consequences?

Thanks for bringing that up.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about common law marriages, and other tax and business issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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