If you’re confused about common-law marriage, you’re not alone. The legal status of your relationship may not hold much significance to you. After all, it’s a deeply personal subject and what matters is what is between the two of you. But when you lose your life partner, that changes in a heartbeat. Legal matters raise their ugly heads, and if you are not recognized legally as the surviving spouse, you could be treated as coldly as any stranger off the street. So, how does this apply to you when wrongful death is involved?
Common-Law Marriage in Arizona
If you live in Arizona, you cannot form a legally valid common-law marriage unless you are a Navajo tribal member. Most people don’t know that. They are under the impression that simply living together for a certain number of years automatically creates a common-law marriage, but that’s not true.
If you have formed a valid common-law marriage in one of the few states that allow it, or as a Navajo, Arizona will recognize you as the surviving spouse. But, you had to form that marriage according to the laws of that state or the Navajo Nation, and you have to be able to prove it.
Wrongful Death in Arizona
A surviving spouse can receive compensation for damages such as loss of care and companionship and your pain and suffering as a result of your loss. If you do not qualify as a surviving spouse under Arizona law, you may still benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit if you are named in the will, but your personal losses will not be considered or compensated.
To learn more about your rights as a common-law spouse, please talk to an experienced Arizona wrongful death attorney.