Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Non-traditional relationship get legal status in Salt Lake County

Couples who love each other and live together may come up with many reasons for not getting married: prior debt, child support obligations, alimony, tax status, or just not being ready or legally able. With the high number of couples living together and not marrying, some states are amending their family law to accommodate the numerous people living as non-traditional couples.

Salt Lake County has allow committed couples to receive legal documentation from the county confirming their relationship. The documentation can then be used in the process of applying for legal benefits and services from companies that offer them. The move was made after county residents reached out to Salt Lake City officials wishing to be listed on its registry which was created in 2008. There are currently 86 couples registered in Salt Lake City.

The county registry will require both parties to be at least 18 years of age and to make a declaration of their mutual commitment to each other. They must also have at least one common financial obligation and sign a mutual commitment documentation. These requirements create a higher threshold than for those seeking to be married. There will be a relatively inexpensive fee for the registry similar to that paid for a marriage license. On June 4, the council voted 8-1 to establish the registry.

As society changes, the focus on traditional families will have to give way to the growing number of nontraditional family units. Creating more options for couples to gain legal recognition of their relationship is likely to create more benefits than problems.

Source: Deseret News "Salt Lake County Council passes ordinance creating mutual commitment registry" Marjorie Cortez, June 4, 2013

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