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PENNSYLVANIA TRIAL COURT RECOGNIZES SAME-SEX COMMON LAW MARRIAGE ORIGINATING IN 1995

In a case from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, which was decided on March 21, 2016, The Honorable Barry Dozer held that in a case where two same-sex people met in 1968, began dating in 1974, moved in together 1975, and bought a condo in 1995 in both of their names, that these people should be considered as common law married as of 1995. In fact, once same-sex marriage became legal, they wed formally in 2014.

In the case, captioned In re: R.M.D., considerable testimony was taken from a number of witnesses concerning the commitment each party had for the other, the formal documents they had executed over the years, naming each other as surrogate to make decisions for the other, including Living Wills and Powers of Attorney, and the manner in which each held the other out to the community as being married.

 

Common law marriage, for any relationship beginning after 2005, has been outlawed in Pennsylvania. However, for relationships before 2005, which meet the requisite requirements, a Court may still find that parties have been common law married.
Here, since common law marriage was available to the couple, since the law prevented their formal marriage before 2014, since the parties held themselves out as being married for many years and since the other legal prerequisites were met by the parties, Judge Dozer found them to have been married since 1995.

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