The answer is both simple and complicated. The simple part is, yes, a common-law spouse can recover wrongful death compensation in Louisiana. The complicated part is two-fold. First, most people who think they in a common-law marriage really aren’t. Second, even if you did have a valid common-law marriage, you’ll still have to prove it. An experienced Louisiana wrongful death attorney can help.
What is a Valid Common-Law Marriage?
If it was formed in Louisiana, it isn’t a valid common-law marriage. You cannot form a common-law marriage in Louisiana, nor can you do so in most states. Some states do allow it, and they have certain conditions which must be met, such as:
- Both of you agreed that you were married
- You lived together, not necessarily for a certain amount of time
- You held yourself out in public as married, meaning your represented yourselves as a married couple to your friends, family and everyone else
Each state that allows for common-law marriage has its own laws for what constitutes a legally binding common-law marriage. The elements mentioned above are standard requirements, but some have more requirements and are more specific.
If you had a valid common-law marriage, you are the surviving spouse and can recover wrongful death compensation.
Fighting for Your Rights
Proving common-law marriage can be challenging and you may be up against other family members who can only collect if you do not qualify. The surviving spouse and children of the deceased have the only claim, if they exist. With no spouse or children, it opens up to the parents, then the siblings, then the grandparents.
To make things more difficult, you only have one year to file your wrongful death lawsuit. If you believe you have a claim, please schedule a consultation with an experienced Louisiana wrongful death attorney right away.