Common Law Marriage


A common law marriage or an informal marriage, despite its archaic nature, has been in existence since 1877.

In the United States of America, District of Columbia, South Carolina, Kansas, Montana and as many as 10 states, it stands as a recognized form of marriage, with albeit some changes and restrictions.

However, there are states like Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that offer limited recognition of common law marriage.

By definition, common law marriage is a relationship where a couple that lives together, represents themselves to society as a married couple, without having been formally married or obtaining a marriage license. The cohabiting couples in such a marriage by habit and repute do not have their marriage recorded by state or religious registry.

However, living together is not a stand-alone validation factor for common law marriage.

The key requirements that validate common law marriage for partners living together include –

both individuals being 18 years of age or above, reflecting a sound adult mental health, showing an intent to marry, taking on the last name, referring to each other as spouses in public, sharing expenses and household duties, and having joint accounts.

The evidence that corroborates the intention to marry would be a written agreement between both the partners. It would also legally establish a common-law marriage.

Having said that, a practicing family law attorney is the best person to help you find answers to any questions you may have about the legal implications of common law marriage in your state.


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