For over half a century, it has been illegal for unmarried couples to live together in Michigan – but that may be about to change.
Since 1957, unmarried couples living together have been officially guilty of a misdemeanor under the Michigan Penal Code. The law is rarely cited or enforced in the state legal system, but it remains on the books – and has occasional negative consequences for couples.
Specifically, unmarried Michigan couples can run into financial issues due to the nature of their relationships. It’s not possible to claim a common-law spouse as a dependent if the relationship itself is technically illegal.
Earlier this month, the Senate judiciary committee voted to approve a bill, Senate Bill 896, to repeal the 59-year-old law, according to ABC News. Next, the bill will come to a vote before the entire Michigan Senate.
How does Michigan’s cohabitation law affect families?
Currently, Michigan is one of only two states with an anti-cohabitation law in place, the other being Mississippi. Florida repealed its own cohabitation ban earlier this month.
Even though the anti-cohabitation law is rarely referenced in family court, it has significant implications for couples who cohabitate before or in lieu of getting married, especially when children are involved. Unmarried, cohabitating couples with dependent children are unable to claim tax exemptions in the same manner that married couples can because the IRS does not recognize their relationship as legitimate due to this state law.
As the bill to repeal this old law moves to the Senate for review, Michigan lawmakers will need to look at its implications for family law – and its current relevance given the way relationships and families form in 2016.
Currently, some Michigan couples suffer serious consequences simply for being in relationships that are perfectly legal in 48 other states. This upcoming law change could take pressure off of those families and allow them to move forward on solid legal ground.
If you are navigating a divorce, child custody case or other family law issue in the Troy, MI area, turn to the Oliver Law Group for help. Call today for your free consultation: 800-939-7878.