Getting engaged and changing your status from “two individuals in love” to “fiancée” and “fiancé” can be an exciting experience for any couple. But being “engaged” is not a legally recognizable status unless your relationship meets certain requirements to be recognized as a marriage that has not been solemnized.
Being engaged to someone is just a potentiality. You and your fiancé or fiancée are engaged to get married but have not yet married. Contrary to the popular belief, just because and your partner is not formally recognized as husband and wife does not necessarily mean that your relationship will not be recognized by courts or that you will not be considered a “family.”
“But here is where it gets confusing,” says our Salt Lake City family law attorney from the Ault Legal. “You may still have a legally recognizable status even if your marriage has not been solemnized or, in other words, there has been no formal marriage ceremony recognized by law.”
Unmarried parents and their legal rights in Utah
For example, let’s say that you and your fiancée have been living together for the past three or more years and/or you share a child together. From the legal perspective, even though you have not been formally married, you can be considered a “family” under Utah law.
When you share children together but have not yet married, you have some rights as parents, but not as spouses. Even though you may be recognized as a “family” by Utah courts, you will not have the same obligations and rights as a formally married couple unless you get married.
Un-solemnized marriage for fiancé and fiancée
If your relationship has not been formally entered into, the un-solemnized relationship between you and your fiancé/fiancée or partner can be recognized as a marriage and you will be considered a family if your relationship meets the “validity of marriage not solemnized” requirements. You and your partner must:
- be of legal age and capable of giving consent;
- be legally capable of getting married (entering into a solemnized marriage);
- have lived together for a certain period of time;
- have mutually assumed marital rights, duties, and obligations; and
- consider yourself and have a general reputation of a husband and wife.
If your marriage has not been solemnized yet, and you are still a fiancé and fiancée, a court or administrative order must establish that your relationship meets the above-mentioned requirements in order to be recognized as a “family” under Utah law. “The establishment of the un-solemnized marriage must occur sometime in the court of the relationship or within one years after the termination of that relationship,” warns our experienced family law attorney in Salt Lake City.
Custody rights of unmarried parents in Utah
Under family law in Utah, an unmarried mother who gives birth to a child gains the natural or primary right to custody. The unmarried father, meanwhile, may have to jump through legal hoops to gain custody rights if his paternity has not been established by law.
Our Salt Lake City family law attorney at the Ault Legal explains that the father’s name must be included on the birth certificate when a child is born to an unmarried couple. However, paternity can also be established after birth, but this will most likely be complicated if a legal dispute arises between unmarried parents when it comes to child support, child custody, and parent visitation.
Do you want to learn more about your rights, duties, and obligations as an unmarried couple or parents in Utah? Schedule a consultation by contacting the Ault Legal. Call our offices at 801-539-9000 or fill out this contact form for you case evaluation.