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Can New York court recognize a common law marriage in Michigan?

New York, NY |
Filed under: Marriage and prenups

My cousins lived in Michigan for 12 years. They had a bank account, an appartment lease and a car that were putten on their names. They refered as wife and husband, but weren't married. They decided to marry and moved to NY. Several weeks before the marriage the woman was killed in an accident. Now the man wants to become a single owner of their appartment, but her relatives want to get it. Tell me please, what are his chances and what laws are applied in this situation in Michigan and in New York. Thank you

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Common law marriage cannot be established in New York or Michigan. Unless she had a will that states otherwise, her next of kin inherit her property. If his name is on an apartment lease, car, and joint bank account, then he certainly can claim those items but it is possible her heirs can make a claim as well.


  2. I am a NY lawyer. His chances are not good at all based on the facts as you presented them. The NY courts are very strict about making someone prove if they were arried or not. The greater question is where was she domiciled. A decedent can only be domiciled in one place. A NY court will only take jurisdiction over a NY domiciliary.

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