September 22, 2019

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Wrongful Death Claims for the Common-Law Spouse in Kansas

If you have lost your common-law spouse due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have the same right to wrongful death compensation as you would if you were in a formal marriage. Kansas is one of a few states that still allows common-law marriages to be formed. But, you will have to prove that your common-law marriage met the requirements of Kansas law, or the laws in the state where your marriage was formed.

Kansas Common-Law Marriage

Common-law marriage does not happen magically, on its own, simply because you and your partner live together for a certain amount of time or have a child together. In fact, there is no minimum amount of time that you must live together to establish a common-law marriage. You must meet the following criteria:

  • You were both legally able to marry. You were old enough, mentally and physically able to enter a marriage, not married to someone else, and not closely related.
  • Both of you considered yourselves married.
  • You held yourselves out publicly as a married couple.

Examples of holding yourselves out as married include:

  • Referring to each other as husband, wife, or spouse in conversations with others
  • Filing joint tax returns
  • Signing documents, such as lease agreements or loan applications, as spouses
  • Holding joint accounts

Kansas Wrongful Death Damages

In Kansas, there is no cap on economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, but there is a limit on how much you can recover in non-economic damages. Economic damages include:

  • The deceased’s lost wages that would have been contributed to you
  • Value of lost services, such as child care and home maintenance
  • Loss of marital care, advice, and protection
  • Medical expenses from the time of injury until death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Property damage

Non-economic damages include:

  • Your suffering, mental anguish, and grief
  • Loss of society, comfort, and companionship

To learn more about wrongful death and your legal rights as a common-law spouse, please browse this directory to locate experienced Kansas wrongful death attorney.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.

Sandra’s other writing around the web includes a broad range of topics such as food, pet health, feral cats, music and film. Sandra is also a fine art photographer, helps with animal rescue and TNR in her community, and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.