What do I do in this case of a common law marriage??

+4 votes
My sister-in-law was living with this fellow for about 10 years.  They were not married by law, but definitely a couple and lived together as man an wife.  Perhaps by the common laws in Manitoba they were actually a couple.

Do I put him as another name or how do I show this??
WikiTree profile: Syrnick-10
in Genealogy Help by E. Lauraine Syrnick G2G6 Pilot (102k points)

1 Answer

+3 votes
Best answer

Where common law marriage is legal, it is an official marriage and the couple are by action of law, husband and wife. I've not checked the laws of Manitoba on this, but common law marriage was a legal action in many parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth. According to Manitoba, when did they become legally married? 

You don't have to have an official ceremony to have a legal marriage.

by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
selected by Susan Laursen
I am not sure, but apparently they were together for 10 years before he died.  Believe in Manitoba before the recent statues that common-law marriages were legal after three years.  No idea if that is true now as have a "vague" notion that was amended to maybe less??

Does anyone on the board know the answer to when the law was changed?

Thank you so much so will put the year they started out together as their marriage date as they were together for 10 years.
The whole idea of common law marriage is that it is just that - part of the common law (in countries that use a system of common law, like the U.K. and Canada, and not civil law, like France and the U.S.) and not part of any legislated rule that supersedes the common law. It gets decided on a case by case basis in the courts. Before there was any legislation governing these relationships, it was just a term applied to a couple living together in a marriage-like relationship, such that, if one partner was to sue the other for a share of property, a court would say they were entitled to a share. There was a famous case of a Canadian farm wife who, under legislation would have been entitled to nothing that was not in her own name or owned jointly with her husband, was found under the "common law" precedents that our legal system relies on to be entitled to a share in the value of the farm, based on her contributions as a partner in the relationship. Since in theory each relationship would be judged on its own merits it is not possible to say how many years are necessary to be considered "common law." However, many people have used legislated status to say they qualify as "common law" - e.g. tax laws that say you must file as a couple if you have lived together for more than a year (just an example, not sure if that is still true or not since I've been married quite a while now LOL). Long story short, if it applies to an historical relationship of a significant period of time you could refer to this as a common law relationship, or even a "marriage-like" relationship.

In England, the Marriage Act of 1753 promulgated by Lord Hardwicke was the civil law passed by Parliament on 25 March 1754 requiring marriages to be performed in a religious ceremony.  Before then, marriages were governed by canon law, and little was done by the church to see that the law was properly obeyed. 

The new law set up a marriage registration system and required banns of marriage to be published for anyone to be married under the age of 21 though it made both Jews and Quakers exempt.  The only social control it prescribed as voiding or annulling the marriage.

The Marriage Act 1753 was civil law, but it tried to enforce the rights of churches to control the marriage process. 

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