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Pennsylvania no longer has Common Law Marriage- there's a good reason

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Gary Coleman's Ex-Wife is At it Again!

Reviewed by Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Family Law Practitioner, Harrisburg, PA

6/10/2010 Jessica Lynch Price fights for common law status

Gary Coleman's ex-wife, Shannon Price, 24, wishes to be legally recognized as Coleman's common law wife. On Thursday, Price filed a legal challenge for ultimate control of the child actor's estate.

Coleman and Price, who were officially divorced in 2008, continued living together in Santaquin, Utah until his sudden death last month. According to Price, the couple remained romantic through the years, presenting themselves as husband and wife to the public.

As previously reported by Shaffer & Engle, LLC, Pennsylvania no longer recognizes common law marriage.  One of the primary policy concerns was that a former "spouse" could contest the division of the prior spouse's estate.  As a putative spouse, one has greater rights in a former deceased spouse's estate.  Where the parties divorce prior to death, there is a presumption in the law that the deceased spouse specifically excluded the living spouse from their estate, regardless of what their Will states.  However, where, as here, the parties officially divorce and continued to live together, it gave rise to Ms. Prices's claim that they were still "common law married," thus providing her with a share of Gary Coleman's estate.

If you have questions about common law marriage, divorce, or an estate question, call us a Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

1 Comment

I and a male friend have lived together almost 7 yrs.I am still married to a former husband who left me 9 yrs ago.Do i have any legal rights as far as this man giving me support.(alimony).

Linda- You generally do not have a right to claim alimony from your husband if you are currently cohabitating with the member of the opposite sex, are deceased, or are re-married.

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