June 18, 2019

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Can a Common-Law Spouse Recover Wrongful Death Compensation in Louisiana?

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.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.

Sandra’s other writing around the web includes a broad range of topics such as food, pet health, feral cats, music and film. Sandra is also a fine art photographer, helps with animal rescue and TNR in her community, and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.