Like most things in the law, common law marriage is often confusing and misunderstood. For most people, the term conjures up images of a couple that has lived together for an extended period of time. However, the more widely accepted legal view is that common law marriage is an informal marriage that is not effectuated by civil or religious means. In other words, it is a marriage where the parties did not get a marriage license or have a religious ceremony.
Last year, the ban on same sex marriages in Pennsylvania was lifted with the U.S. District Court’s decision in Whitehead v. Wolf. In June, 2015, the United States Supreme Court lifted this ban for the rest of the nation in its 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
So, what does this mean for same sex married couples when they are looking to complete their estate planning, and how is this different than before the law changed?
Clients often ask whether a workers’ compensation insurance company, which is paying workers’ compensation benefits, could potentially simply stop paying those benefits at any given time. Fortunately for an injured worker, the simple answer is no. In Pennsylvania, there are only a few ways that a workers’ compensation carrier can stop paying workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee once benefits have been paid pursuant to a Notice of Compensation Payable or an Agreement for Compensation.