common law spouse in condo

Can My Common Law Spouse Serve on the Board of Our Condo Association?

Your common-law spouse may be wondering if he or she can serve on the board of your condo association. This hinges on two separate issues: is your partner truly a spouse and does your association allow for spouses to serve on the board?

Is Your Partner Considered a Spouse?

If you and your partner (both at least 18 years of age) went to the courthouse or engaged in a civil or religious ceremony with a filed certificate of marriage, this is an easy answer. But what about common law marriages? 

Rhode Island is one of the few states that recognize common law marriage. A common law marriage is one in which a couple may be considered married without having formally entered into a civil or religious marriage. When a couple is in a common law marriage, they are considered to be married and enjoy the same benefits of a formally registered marriage. They are married for all intents and purposes. But what constitutes a common law marriage?

Elements of a Common Law Marriage in Rhode Island

In order to establish a common law marriage in Rhode Island the following must be true:

  1. You and your partner must have seriously intended to enter into a husband-wife relationship;
  2. Neither you nor your partner are married to someone else; and
  3. You and your partner must have conducted yourselves in a manner that would lead the community to believe that you are married.

Factors Considered in Determining Whether a Common Law Marriage Exists

You may be surprised to know that common law marriage doesn’t require cohabitation. Instead, it is a decision a court would make after considering the totality of the circumstances. 

Factors that a court may consider include:

  • Whether the parties have children together
  • Whether the parties live together and if so, for what period of time?
  • Whether the parties have joint bank accounts
  • Whether the parties wear wedding rings
  • Whether the parties file their taxes jointly
  • Whether the parties go by the same last name
  • Whether the parties share assets

Does Your Condo Association Allow for Spouses to Serve on the Board?

If your partner is, in fact, a common law spouse, whether or not he or she can serve on the condo association’s Board of Directors is dependent upon the specific bylaws of the association. If the bylaws state that a spouse is entitled to serve on the board, your common law spouse would be included in that and therefore may do so. If your association refuses to let them, you may have legal options. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Condominium Issues

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium Law attorneys understand Rhode Island condo law and will work strategically to help our clients maintain their rights. If you believe that you have your rights have been violated, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!