The guy that I am dating is currently going through a divorce in Virginia. The separation agreement was filed in September of 09. It will be final November of 10. He is relocating in Alabama and we plan on living together. The ex is saying she can pursue Bigamy against him because Alabama has a common law marriage law. Is there any truth to this?
Real Estate Attorney
No. Living together for 5 months does not create a common law marriage, especially if you do not hold yourself out as husband and wife. Do not file joint tax returns, do not buy anything as Mr. and Mrs. and you will not have problems with bigamy. In fact, because he is still married it is impossible to create a common law marriage even though Alabama recognizes common law marriages
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The crime of bigamy is found in the Code of Alabama, 1975, 1975, section 13A-13-1 and states that: "A person commits bigamy when he intentionally contracts or purports to contract a marriage with another person when he has a living spouse. ..." [Note: the term "he" as used in the Criminal Code refers to both male and female actors.]
Under general terms of Alabama law, bigamy can only occur if the party fraudulently files for a marriage license and enters into a purported marriage, when in fact the former marriage is not yet dissolved. Living together does not constitute "common law" marriage, even though common law marriage is still recognized under Alabama law. In order to have a common law marriage, there must be both the intent of both parties to enter a marriage relationship and there must be the present ability to contract marriage. A pre-existing marriage prevents such an event to occur.