Stevens Firm March 2018

Zesty Zucchini Enchiladas

How South Carolina’s Common-Law Marriage Doctrine

Applies to Same-Sex Couples

South Carolina is one of only eight states that recognizes common-law marriage, which has been applicable to same-sex couples since 2015. However, questions still surround same-sex common-law marriage, and The Stevens Firm expects the state Supreme Court to make a final ruling in the near future. Until then, rely on the following definition of common- law marriage and South Carolina courts’ recent rulings to determine how this legislation might affect your case. WHAT IS COMMON-LAWMARRIAGE? A common-law marriage is a marriage where a couple lives together for a period of time and proclaims themselves married to friends, family, co-workers, and the rest of the world. However, this concept has not applied to same-sex couples until June 26, 2015, the date of the Obergefell Supreme Court ruling. This has left many couples wondering, “Have we been considered married since June of 2015 or the whole time we’ve met the requirements for common-law marriage?” The answer could have major implications for your case, affecting everything from spousal support to the division of assets and debts.

For a lighter take on enchiladas, go carb-free by swapping tortillas for zucchini!


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4 large zucchini

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2 teaspoons cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chili powder 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken 2 cups shredded cheese

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1. Heat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt to taste. Stir to combine. Add chicken and 1 cup enchilada sauce. 2. Use vegetable peeler to thinly slice zucchini. Lay out three slices, slightly overlapping, and spoon chicken mixture on top. Roll the zucchini “tortilla” and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all zucchini and chicken is used. 3. Cover the enchiladas with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20 minutes, and enjoy! SUDOKU Adapted from

HOW ARE SOUTH CAROLINA COURTS HANDLING THIS ISSUE? So far, only one South Carolina case has dealt with same-sex common-law marriage. In his early 2017 decision in Parks v. Lee, York County family court judge Thomas White held that a same-sex couple who lived together for 28 years were common-law spouses, even though South Carolina legislation did not recognize their partnership. Normally, if there was an obstruction in a marriage, a couple would not be considered common- law spouses. However, White ruled that the same-sex South Carolina legislation was unconstitutional and therefore had no legal effect on the common-law marriage. Because the couple had a joint bank account, bought a home as co-mortgagors, and claimed each other as dependents on tax returns, they had been married since 1988 in the eyes of the court. This ruling dramatically impacted the outcome of the case. The attorneys at The Stevens Firm will continue to keep up with developing trends in domestic litigation in South Carolina and around the country. If you have any questions about your same-sex common- law marriage case, contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.

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