Same-Sex Common Law Marriage Recognized

An Orphans’ Court judge has entered an order declaring to be valid a same-sex common law marriage entered into before common law marriages were abolished in Pennsylvania in 2005.

The case is Estate of Kimberly M. Underwood, No. 2014-E0681 (O.C. Bucks Co.), and the one-page order was entered by Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. on 7/29/2015.

According to the docket, citations were issued to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, the Pa. Department of Revenue, and several insurance companies, and the order states that no objections or oppositions were filed by any of the parties served.

The order does not cite any authority or provide any reasoning, but simply states that:

 This Court hereby declares that Sabrina L. Maurer and Kimberly M. Underwood entered into a valid and enforceable marriage, under Pennsylvania common law, on September 2, 2001 and remained married under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until the time of Kimberly M. Underwood’s death on November 20, 2013. Their marriage is valid and enforceable, and they are entitled to all rights and privileges of validly licensed, married spouses in all respects under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The case is somewhat unusual in that the parties were married in a public ceremony, in a church in New Jersey, which is not your typical common law marriage.

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