SC Supreme Court abolishes common law marriage, Grand Strand attorneys weigh in


The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled to abolish common law marriages on Wednesday.

Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn, a longtime family attorney from Horry County helped to lead the effort. The ruling doesn’t apply to current common law marriages, but to couples going forward.

Going forward, without a license a marriage is not considered legitimate in the state.

Local attorney, Thomas Winslow says getting rid of common law marriages will make things easier in a court of law.

“So now when clients come and see us and say ‘Are we married?’. We simply say ‘Do you have a license?” said Winslow. “We don’t have to go through all these factors of maybe yes, maybe no,”

There are more than a dozen states left that still allow common law marriages.

“A cultural shift brought on this change, back in 1986 if you were living together you were expected to be together, but now that’s not the case,” said Winslow.

News13 engaged on a local Facebook page, Surfsidians, where local couples shared differing views.

One comment read: “I don’t need a piece of paper to declare who I love.”

Another comment: ” “It’s stupid. You’re either married or you’re not. Common law is ridiculous. If you’re with a man that long and he doesn’t marry you. Move on. Wake up.”

A local bridal shop says she sees brides daily who still believe marriage should be sacred and legally binding.

“The institution of marriage is very traditional, and by establishing a marriage with a valid marriage license is the total commitment that true love should demonstrate,” said Flohr.

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