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State Laws: Common Law Marriage

State Laws: Common Law Marriage

In common law marriage policy, an individual is taken to be legally married, in spite of not obtaining a marriage license, conducting a marriage ceremony, or having a marriage certificate, if he or she fulfills certain conditions stipulated in the laws of the state where he or she resides. The common law marriage is beneficial because it confers the right of inheritance on a spouse upon the death of his or her partner. It also confers on an individual the right to spousal support and an evenhanded sharing of the property if the arrangement ends.

We have provided in this article the 16 states that recognize common law marriage and those that do not support it in addition to those who provide benefits to a domestic relationship. Some states revoked the law and only recognize common law marriage started before a particular date. A good number of states and metropolis currently support domestic relations rights, provide a registry, benefits extension or both.

As unmarried cohabitants, you are thus, advised to check with the state and local laws in your community to establish the right you have as partners. Some states only support a common law marriage if it was legal in one of these states and fulfills the required conditions even when those states don’t have laws that support common law marriages.

Recognition or nonrecognition of your relationship as a common law marriage can have a massive impact on your property rights. The common law marriage can be created without the marriage parties being aware, and because the law is not included in the decrees of many states, it can be somewhat tricky to establish which courts will rule that you are legally married to a long-term partner or not.

The common law marriages are operational in the following states

The following states recognize common law marriage and also provide benefits to domestic partners either as a state or within municipals inside the state:

  • Colorado

Common law marriage is recognized in Colorado; the parties must have been cohabiting and been seen as couples on or after Sept. 1, 2006. Denver metropolis extends benefits to domestic partners and makes available a domestic partner registry.

  • District of Columbia

In Columbia, a common law marriage is recognized if the parties involved show a clear intention of getting married to each other through their cohabitation for a noteworthy period, and by showing themselves in public as married.

  • Georgia

Common law marriages are valid in Georgia if it is entered into before January 1, 1997. Atlanta metropolis provides benefits to domestic partners and makes available a domestic partner registry.

  • Iowa

The Iowa metropolis in addition to providing benefits to domestic partners provides a domestic partner registry. The parties must intend and agree to marry, be cohabiting and be able to declare to the public that they are married.

  • Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia metropolis provides benefits to domestic partners.

  • Texas

In Texas, the parties must sign a form offered by the county clerk, agree to get married, live together, and cues to others that they are married for common law marriage to be established. Travis province provides benefits to domestic partners.

Common marriage laws across different states

The following states have common law marriage but do not provide benefits to domestic partners either as a state or within any of its communities:

  • Kansas

In Kansas, the parties ought to demonstrate that they are mentally able to get married, they must consent to marriage at the current time, and they must symbolize to the public that they are married for common law marriage to be recognized.

  • Ohio

Ohio identifies with common law marriages started before October 10, 1991.

  • New Hampshire

New Hampshire identifies with common law marriages but only for inheritance purposes for parties who cohabitate and signals to the public that they are a married couple for a period not less than three years.

  • Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the two individuals must be capable, accept to go into a marriage relationship, and live together for common law marriage to be applied.

  • Idaho

In Idaho, for common law marriages to be recognized as valid, they must be entered into before January 1996.

  • Alabama

The state and its entire metropolis do not provide any benefit to domestic partners.

  • Utah

Utah accepts common law marriage if the cohabitants are old enough to legally consent to marriage, have cohabited, treated each other as spouses and takes their relationship as a marriage.

  • South Carolina

In South Carolina, if the intention of cohabitants is to make others believe they are married, they are regarded as legally married by common law marriage.

  • Montana

Here, the common law marriage requires that the cohabitants be willing to get married, have the capacity to give their approval to marriage, live together, and be known by people as married.

  • Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, common law is valid if the parties are seriously planning to get married and engage in behaviors that result to a considerable belief by others in the municipal that they are married.

The following states don’t have common law marriages in place

The following states and the municipality within them do not have common law marriages and also do not provide any certain rights to cohabiting domestic partners:

      •       Nebraska
      •       Nevada
      •       Tennessee
      •       Arkansas
      •       Alaska
      •       Mississippi
      •       Kentucky
      •       North Dakota
      •       Wyoming
      •       West Virginia
      •       Delaware

The following states and municipality within them don’t have common law marriages but provide definite benefits to domestic partners:

      •       Vermont
      •       Virginia
      •       Washington
      •       Wisconsin
      •       New Jersey
      •       New Mexico
      •       New York
      •       North Carolina
      •       Oregon
      •       Louisiana
      •       Maine
      •       Maryland
      •       Massachusetts
      •       Michigan
      •       Minnesota
      •       Missouri
      •       Illinois
      •       Indiana
      •       Connecticut
      •       Florida
      •       Hawaii
      •       Arizona
      •       California

If you plan on a common law marriage, it is important to know the laws of some states that will see you as married and confer on you all the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage (even when you are not officially married). It’s also important to know what rights you may have as cohabitants. A legal professional specialized in marriage cases should be able to offer you help regarding your particular situation.


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