Common-Law Marriage and AdoptionQ: My partner and I have been living together for 4 years now (we have been together about 6) but we are not married. We are considered as common-law man and wife. We really want to adopt from Asia, preferably China, but I understand you must be married? Does common-law usually count in these cases or not? It is difficult as all site refer to singles and married and I am not sure which camp we fall into.

A:  China requires couples to be married.  I don’t think they care whether you go through a marriage ceremony or go through a legal proceeding declaring that you are married by common law, but you will need to submit some form of documentation proving you are married.  Whatever documentation you submit will need to show that you have been “married” for two years if neither of you has been divorced, or five years if either of you has been divorced.

Some countries will accept a common-law marriage, or have a reduced required length of marriage for couples who were in a common-law marriage prior to legally marrying.  Check the adoption comparison charts or with an adoption agency for more information about that process.

Image credit:  Jurischk