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Former Common Law Marriage

I am turning 70 and filling out on line form to collect SS benefits. There was a question of prior marriage over 10 years. I had a common law marriage and did get divorce papers in 1985. The start date is unknown. Could be anywhere from 1971 to  whenever. This was back in my hippie days. She was born in Feb 1952. She probably did not pay in much over the years and may be collecting already. We are not in touch. I think she is currently married. I am currently married.

Is there any advantage or disadvantage to claiming this as a 10 year of more marriage? At the time, PA common law was "marriage by intent" Sort of walks like a duck, quacks like a duck thing. There is no honest answer, but she did file taxes using my last name in 1972 or 1973. I think Social Security may have mailed her a card with my surname in 1974, but neither of us requested it.


Don't know how to answer or how this could affect my benefits, her benefits and my spouse's benefits.  Help!

John A Sykas
Gold Conversationalist

Maybe you should ask SS.  They are sticklers about record keeping and can give you the facts.  I have my doubts they will recognize a "common law" marriage but you can ask.

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