Can I prove a common law marriage?
Question Details: I was in a 8.5 year relationship in IA in which we lived together for about 8 years of it. He took me to look at wedding rings before I moved in. He wanted me to quit my job to help him take care of his 4 kids who he had shared care of. They ranged in age from 5 to 15 at the time. I also had 2 kids from a different relationships. He told me that he would help me with anything I needed money-wise since I no longer would have a job. He worked an hour and a half away so I took care of taking the kids to school, picking them up, making dinner, taking care of the house and taking them to and from sports practices. He had a house so I sold mine to move in with him. I thought that we would get married since he talked about it and took me to look at rings. A few years into the relationship, he told me a ring didn't define our relationship. We had a joint credit card, we moved into a different house because he got a new job in a different town and we bought land to build a house in the future. I don't know if he put my name on the house or land but he let me pick the house out and always referred to it as ours. His kids introduced me as their stepmom and my kids introduced him as their stepdad. He said I was named as the beneficiary if he passed away and would get the house, plus he had a life insurance policy naming me as the beneficiary. I was also on his health insurance and we did everything as a family including family vacations. I trusted him even though he didn't really help me out money-wise. He would say, "gave you a credit card with your name on it, isn't that enough?". I never asked for cash again. I just used the credit card but he quizzed me about it constantly. I quit my job and lost 8 years of work and 401k while he advanced at his job; he's a nurse anesthetist. About 10 months ago I knew something was wrong because he had his mom over and she was cold towards me. A few days later, he told me to get out of his house and then locked me out. He forgot to change the garage code but took they keys to everything. I couldn't get into my storage shed to get my stuff. I went ,when he was on call because I was afraid of him. He was very cold and mean when he told me to get out. I have no family in Iowa and no job so I moved in with my mom in AZ. I asked him if he was going to help me out and he said no, "It's your fault that you quit your job and I don't owe you anything". Can I prove common law marriage in or is there any recourse since I took care of his kids for the last 8 years? Am I just screwed?
In Iowa (where a common law marriage would have to be established), ou must be able to prove three things to have a common law marriage:
1) That both you and he agreed that you were married.
2) That you lived together continuously.
3) That both of you in publically acted like a married couple.
#2 will not be a problem. #1 may or may not be a problem--it depends in large part on how he described your relationship to others; for example, did he refer to as his wife or as girlfriend? If, for example, he called you girlfriend, since a girlfriend is not a wife, the two of you would not have acted publically like a married couple.
And #1 may be a problem to, since if you looked at rings but then did not get one and did not get married, that strongly implies that he chose to not get married and did not wan to be married--so there would be no agreement between both of you that you were married.
If you cannot show common law marriage, the fact that you took care of his children is irrelevant: that would not give you any rights.