If I were living with my boyfriend for2years and want to file a joint return with him, will I legally be married to him?

UPDATED: Sep 24, 2011

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If I were living with my boyfriend for2years and want to file a joint return with him, will I legally be married to him?

Asked on September 24, 2011 under Family Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, no--filing a joint tax return does not make one married. Or more to the point: you can't file a joint tax return with someone UNLESS you have been legally married, and filing the tax return itself does not make you married, and nor does simply living together. You become married by getting a marriage license and being married by the appropriate officiator (e.g. judge, justice of the peace, clergy, etc.).

Your state, SC, is one of the very few that recognize "common law marriage," which can result in legal marital rights without a formal marriage. However, it's not always clear when two people are common law married, and it definite requires both of them to declare their intention to be married and to treat each other as spouses. You should consult with a family law attorney in your state to better understand common law marriage and how it might apply to you.

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