As I was researching various marriage laws across the northeastern states within the US, I was flabbergasted to discover something that I had believed was protected in New Jersey hasn't even exited in almost 100 years.

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Many New Jersey residents, including myself, have been living under the impression that common law marriage was a relationship state that actually existed here in the Garden State. Joke is on all of us. Apparently, not only is common law marriage not actually legal in New Jersey, it hasn't been since the early 1900s.

Common Law Marriage in New Jersey

New Jersey hasn't recognized common law marriage since 1939. This means that the only people protected by those laws would be people who established that kind of relationship prior to that date. How many people do you know that have been common law married since before the 1940s? That's what I thought...

Cohabitation Laws in New Jersey

The DeTommaso Law Group says New Jersey defines cohabitation as a "mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or a civil union." Unfortunately, there's no way to legalize a couple's cohabitation status. The way you afford yourself the legal benefits of married couple is to, you guessed it, actually get married.

Protecting your common law marriage in New Jersey

If you have no interest in writing a check out to the Garden State to prove your loyalty to your partner, there are ways to ensure that you and your partner are protected, come what may. The first piece of advice you should prioritize is speaking with a lawyer. Getting legal counsel can help you both set up your estate planning, your wills, and your powers of attorney. If you have a legalized plan drawn up naming your partner in charge of all these things, and vice versa, you'll both avoid any headache should one of you pass before your time.

There is also a way to ensure monetary protection. Should you or your partner become prematurely deceased, as long as you have named each other as beneficiary on all of your personal accounts, you should be covered.

Just remember that if you're not planning on getting married, make sure you protect yourself. There's not such thing as common law marriage in New Jersey.

If you do change your mind and wish to make it legal, we have a couple of suggestions for you:

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If you're not interested in spending an arm and a leg on the rings, this info may be of some use for you:

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