Learn Divorce Basics: Common Law Marriage

By |2017-10-03T14:11:41+00:00October 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A common law marriage is when a couple lives together for a period of time and holds themselves out as a married couple in their community, without ever formally marrying with or obtaining a marriage license. Remember, simply living together is not sufficient for a common law marriage.

Below are three requirements that apply in many states where common law marriage is permitted:

  1. The couple must live together for a period of time, which varies state to state.
  2. Each person has the legal right or “capacity” to marry
  3. The couple must intend to be married.
  4. The couple must hold themselves out to family/friends as being a married couple. This may include using the same last name, referring to each other as the other’s spouse, using a joint bank account or credit cards.

Not all states recognize Common Law Marriage. These are the states that DO fully recognize Common Law Marriage:

  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah


States that Recognize Same-Sex Common Law Marriage

Currently, the following states recognize same sex common law marriages:


Rhode Island

District of Columbia

Most other states that recognize common law marriage have made the acceptance of such gender-specific, meaning that only a common law marriage between a man and a woman is recognized.


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