State Laws: Common Law Marriage
The concept of common law marriage has been recognized for many years in the U.S. Essentially in a common law marriage two parties create a valid marital relationship without the benefit of a legal marriage ceremony performed according to the statutory requirements of that particular state.
To be defined as a common law marriage within the states that allow it, the two people must: agree that they are married, live together, and present themselves as husband and wife.
What if My State Doesn't Recognize Common Law Marriages?
Even if you currently live in a state that doesn't specifically recognize common law marriages, you may be able to establish that one exists or existed if you used to live in a common law state and can offer written documentation.
Same-Sex Marriage and Common Law
Currently, only Iowa, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia recognize common law same-sex marriages . Most other common law states make the law gender-specific so only a man and a woman can enter into a common law marriage.
The following list contains a state-by-state look at common law marriages.
|GEORGIA||Yes, but only for marriages entered into before January 1, 1997.|
|IDAHO||Yes, but only for marriages entered into before January 1, 1996.|
|NEW HAMPSHIRE||Yes, but only for inheritance purposes.|
|OHIO||Yes, but only for marriages entered into before October 10, 1991.|
|OKLAHOMA||Yes, definitely for marriages entered into before November 11, 1998. Controversy over the law for any common law marriages after that date.|
|PENNSYLVANIA||Yes, but only for marriages entered into before January 1, 2005.|
|UTAH||Only "Judicial Recognition" of a common law marriage is accepted.|
Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Legal recognition of a relationship as a marriage can be complicated. Consider talking to a family attorney to go over your options. A lawyer can advise you about the laws and any documents you may need to prove or disprove a common law marriage. Keep in mind that it is important to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Most offer free consultations, so your first step should be to contact an experienced family attorney.