Dillon Law

General Information about Family Law

Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations which include, but are not limited to:

    1.    The nature of marriage, domestic partnerships, civil unions;
    2.    Issues that may arise during marriage such as spousal abuse, child abuse, child abduction, adoption, paternity, and surrogacy;
    3.    The termination of the relationship and such matters including divorce, annulment, property distributions, alimony and child custody, visitation and child support awards.

When you are faced with an important decision pertaining to a family relationship, seek the legal advice of an experienced family law attorney.


At the core, marriage is a legal relationship between two individuals. In some form, marriage is found in virtually every society.  A few common restrictions on marriage are:

    1.    A marriage between blood related siblings, parent and child, and aunt or uncle and niece and nephew.
    2.    The minimum age requirement for marriage is 18 years old, although some states permit marriage at a younger age if parents consent.
    3.    One or both parties must meet state residency requirements.

It is mandatory in most states that a formal ceremony of some kind be performed with witnesses and a religious or licensed official.

Federal and state laws give married couples many benefits.  Such benefits include:

    1.    Decision making powers about your spouse in case of disability;
    2.    Claimant rights for loss of consortium;
    3.    Certain tax advantages;
    4.    Inheritance rights;
    5.    Federal benefit rights including disability, unemployment, social security, veterans' pension and public assistance;
    6.    Creating a marital estate fund;
    7.    Receive family rates on insurance;
In some cases, couples find it advantageous to consult an attorney about entering a premarital agreement.  This is useful as it allows them to work through financial issues and potential disagreements prior to marriage.

Common Law

Common law marriage is a marriage that results from the actions of a couple even though the couple has not obtained a marriage license or fulfilled the requirements of a state's statutory marriage laws.  To establish a common law marriage in Iowa the couple must (1) have a present intent and agreement to be married by both parties, (2) have continuous cohabitation and (3) make a public declaration that the parties are husband and wife. In re Marriage of Winegard.  The evidence to prove the necessary intent includes such things as sharing the same last name, filing of joint tax returns, holding joint insurance plans, and referring to each other as husband or wife.

While Iowa recognizes common law marriage, not every state does.  As a result, actions which can result in common law marriage in Iowa may not provide any legal rights or protections in another. Once the requirements of common law marriage are satisfied, the marriage is treated in the exact same manner as any other marriage.  Therefore, a valid common law marriage must typically be ended through a formal divorce process.

If you would like to schedule a initial consultation contact an Iowa family law attorney, representing clients in Sumner, Iowa at the Dillon Law P.C. Give us a call at (563) 578-1850 or complete our inquiry form.

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Sumner, Iowa Location

209 E. 1st Street, Sumner, IA 50674

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