Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P.


Serving Story County and Central Iowa since 1906

323 6th St.
Ames, IA 50010-0664
USA
 

Phone: (515) 232-4732
 

FAMILY LAW :: Back to Practice Areas

I. General Information about Family Law
II. Marriage
     A. Traditional
     B. Common Law
III. Premarital/Prenuptial Agreement
IV. Divorce
     A. Grounds
     B. Fault or No-Fault
     C. Annulment
     D. Alienation of Affection
V. Alimony, Spousal Support and Maintenance
VI. Division of Property
     A. Community Property
     B. Equitable Distribution
VII. Adoption
     A. Public adoption
     B. Private adoption
     C. Transracial adoption
     D. Intra-national and International adoption
     E. Single parent adoption
     F. Summary of Adoption procedure
VIII. Child Custody and Visitation
IX. Child Support
X. Conclusion
Frequently Asked Questions


Marriage

A marriage is a relationship between or among individuals, usually recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants. Because marriage often has the dual nature of a binding legal contract plus a moral promise, it is often difficult to characterize.

Traditional

In some form or another, marriage is found in virtually every society. Marriage has traditionally been understood as a monogamous union. In some parts of today’s world, polygamy is a common form of marriage. However, all states prohibit a marriage to more than one person. Marriage is also prohibited between close family members. A few of the more common restrictions are:

  • A marriage between blood related siblings, parent and child, and aunt or uncle and niece and nephew.
  • Generally the minimum age requirement for marriage is 18 years old, although some states permit marriage at a younger age if parents consent to the marriage.
  • One or both parties must meet state residency requirements.

It is mandatory in most states that a formal ceremony of some kind be performed with witnesses and a religious or licensed official.

Federal and state laws give married couples many benefits. Such benefits include:

  • Decision making powers about your spouse in case of disability
  • Claimant rights for loss of consortium (loss of interest that one spouse is entitled to receive from the other, including companionship, cooperation, affection, aid and sexual relations)
  • Certain tax advantages
  • Inheritance rights under state intestate succession laws
  • Federal benefit rights including disability, unemployment, social security, veterans’ pension and public assistance benefits
  • Creating a marital estate fund
  • Receive family rates on insurance
  • Avoid deportation of a non-citizen spouse

In some instances, many couples find it advantageous to consult an attorney about entering into a premarital or prenuptial agreement. This is useful as it allows them to work through financial issues and the potential disagreements that can be created prior to marriage.

Common Law

Common law marriage is a marriage that results from the actions of a couple despite the fact that they have not obtained a marriage license or fulfilled the requirements of a state’s statutory marriage laws. Typically this means that a couple has lived together for a significant period of time, while having an agreement to be married and presenting themselves to the public as husband and wife. No state stipulates the exact time period, but generally a ten year old relationship is required. The evidence to prove the necessary intent includes such things as sharing the same last name, filing of joint tax returns and referring to each other as husband or wife.

Not every state permits common law marriages. As a result of the laws of different states, actions which can result in common law marriage in one state may not provide any legal rights or protections in another.

There are few states that recognize common law marriages:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • District of Columbia

States permitting certain common law marriages:

  • Georgia (if the elements were met prior to January 1, 1997)
  • Idaho (if the elements were met prior to January 1, 1996)
  • New Hampshire (for inheritance only)
  • Ohio (if the elements were met prior to October 10, 1991)
  • Pennsylvania (if the elements were met prior to January 1, 2005)

In states which recognize common law marriage, once the requirements are satisfied, the marriage is treated in the exact same manner as any other marriage. Therefore, a valid common law marriage must typically be ended through a formal divorce process.

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Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., is an Iowa general practice law firm with practice including, but not limited to  Administrative Law, Adoption Law, Agricultural Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Banking Law, Business Law (including business organization, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), incorporations, and sales of businesses and business assets), Civil Rights, Commercial Law, Construction Law, Corporate Law, Criminal Defense, Elder Law, Employment Law, Family Law (including divorce, prenuptial agreements, child support, child custody, dissolution modification), Government, Government Contracts, Litigation, Personal Injury (including Motor Vehicle Accidents and Wrongful Death), Product Liability, Professional Negligence Law, Real Estate (including mortgage loan closings, IRC Section 1031 exchanges, subdivisions, platting, condominiums, and cooperative housing), Municipal Law, Taxation Law and Tax Preparation, Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Probate Law (including financial and medical powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships, trust administration, and estate administration), Workers Compensation, Zoning, Planning & Land Use

The offices of the Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., are located in Ames, Iowa. The lawyers and staff of the Pasley and Singer Law Firm, L.L.P., serve clients throughout Iowa, including the cities of Ames, Nevada, Gilbert, Huxley, Slater, Zearing, Story City, Roland, McCallsburg, Colo, Cambridge, Sheldahl, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Marshalltown, Boone, Webster City, Eldora, Grundy Center, Newton, Adel, Eldora, Ankeny, Johnston, Indianola, Cedar Falls, Jefferson, Marshalltown, Clarion, Knoxville, and the communities that make up Story, Polk, Linn, Webster, Blackhawk, Marshall, Boone, Hamilton, Jasper, Dallas, Hardin, Warren, Greene, Wright, and Marion counties.