Pa Common Law Marriage …
was recognized by the Pa Supreme Court 140 years ago.
was questioned by the Pa Supreme Court 15 years ago.
was abolished by the Pa Commonwealth Court in 2003?
Pa Common Law Marriage – Caution
As a caution, however, it is important to keep in mind that the Commonwealth Court may not be the final word here. Decisions from this court are always subject to being appealed to – and overruled by – the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Decisions from this court control only a limited scope of lower courts and administrative agencies (i.e., workers compensation, unemployment compensation, certain taxation issues, etc.).
Pa Common Law Marriage – Note
This paper was presented on October 20, 2003. Since that time, the Pennsylvania Legislature, did in fact, render common law marriage proactively invalid after January 1, 2005, by statute (23 1103), stating that “[n]o common-law marriage contracted after January 1, 2005, shall be valid. Nothing in this part shall be deemed or taken to render any common-law marriage otherwise lawful and contracted on or before January 1, 2005, invalid.” (Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)).
This paper – “Pa Abolishes Common Law Marriage” – was also subsequently published on the Martindale-Hubbell website.
In a fascinatingly historical and extensively detailed majority opinion, (both factually and legally), as well as an equally well presented, yet briefer, minority opinion, the Commonwealth Court analyzed and reviewed the scenarios and reasons long ago forgotten that gave rise to a doctrine no longer needed.
These will be reviewed in the next parts.