“Common Law Marriage” in Michigan

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

“How long do unmarried people in a relationship have to live together to have rights under ‘common law marriage’ in Michigan?”

The answer is: there is no such thing as a common law marriage in Michigan, at least not since 1957. While many people think that “living together” in an exclusive relationship means that they gain legal rights toward one another after a certain time, this is not true.

Michigan law defines marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman who are legally capable of giving consent (for example, old enough; mentally competent) and who obtain a marriage license and whose marriage is conducted by a legally-authorized person. You have to meet all of these conditions in order to be married within the borders of Michigan.

There are important social, political, family and legal issues that surround the definition of “marriage” in Michigan. Not the least of these is that the no-fault law does not recognize unrelated people who live together in a paired relationship, but who are not married, as being eligible to receive each other’s no-fault benefits such as survivors loss.

That is not likely to change, unless the definition of “marriage” is changed first.

Source: MCL 551.2

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

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