COURT OF CIVIL APPEAL DENIES COMMON LAW MARRIAGE

undefinedIn the case of Ex parte Enriquez, this is a case in which the Wife claimed they were common law married.  The parties were married and originally divorced in 2006.  The Wife in 2014 filed a Rule 60(b) motion claiming she was unaware of the contents of the 2006 divorce due to a language barrier.  Also, she alleged that she and her Husband had continued to live together and had filed tax returns in 2008-2011.

In June, 2019, the Wife filed a new complaint claiming common law marriage and seeking a divorce.  The Husband filed an answer to the complaint and requested a judgment on the pleadings in which he claimed that the parties had not entered into a common law marriage. The wife again attached their joint married tax returns for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The trial court denied the husband's motion as a matter of law and the husband filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus. The Writ was denied.

The husband seeks a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to grant him a motion on the pleadings. In order to justify this ruling, the husband has to show that the information contained within the pleadings contains no genuine issue of material facts presented. If there are issues of material facts outside the pleadings presented, then the motion on the judgment of the pleadings cannot be granted as a summary judgment.

In this case the appellate court could not determine whether the trial court considered matters outside the pleadings presented by the parties. Therefore, the appellate court denied the husband's motion for a judgment in this case. Based on the Wife’s complaint and the husband's answer it is clear that there was a material issue of fact in this case and there was like dispute as to whether or not it was a common law marriage.   

As a general rule common law marriage is no longer recognized in the state of Alabama.  Based upon the facts of this case, the court might conclude that the parties never divorced.  The parties continued to file joint tax returns and never separated. 

If you are seeking a divorce, contact Ingram Law LLC at 205-335-2640.

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