Common Law Marriage States
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of legal writers and editors.
Under the common law marriage doctrine, you're considered legally married -- despite not having a marriage license, a ceremony, or a marriage certificate -- if you meet specific requirements (according to state law). The benefits of common law marriage include the right to inherit upon the death of one spouse and the right to spousal support and an equitable division of property should the marriage terminate.
The jurisdictions that recognize common law marriage and the requirements of each are listed below. In addition, states will recognize a couple as married if their union is contracted by a common law marriage state and meets those requirements, even if these states themselves lack statutes providing for common law marriages.
Common Law Marriage States: Summaries of the Law
- Colorado. In order for a common law marriage to exist in Colorado, the relationship must been proven by the cohabitation of the common law spouses and their reputation for being married (on or after Sept. 1, 2006).
- District of Columbia. In the District, a common law marriage is established by the parties' explicit intent to be married, by their cohabitation for a significant period of time, and by holding themselves out to the public as a married couple.
- Iowa. A common law marriage is established in Iowa by the parties' intent and agreement to be married, their continuous cohabitation, and their public declarations that they are spouses.
- Kansas. In Kansas, the spouses must have the mental capacity to marry, they must agree to be married at the present time, and they must represent to the public that they are married in order for a common law marriage to exist.
- Montana. In Montana, the parties must have the capacity to consent to marriage, they must agree to be married, they must cohabitate, and they must have a reputation of being married.
- New Hampshire. This state recognizes common law marriages for couples who cohabitate and hold themselves out as a married couple for at least three years.
- Oklahoma. The parties must be competent, agree to enter into a marriage relationship, and cohabitate in order to be considered as having a common law marriage.
- Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, a common law marriage exists if the couple has a serious intent to be married and engage in conduct that leads to a reasonable belief by others in the community that they are married.
- South Carolina. In this state, if a couple intends for others to believe they are married, a common law marriage may be established.
- Texas. If a couple in Texas sign a form provided by the county clerk, agree to be married, cohabitate, and represent to others that they are married, a common law marriage exists.
- Utah. Utah recognizes common law marriage if the couple is of age and legally able to consent to marriage, have lived together, treated each other as spouses, and hold themselves out as married.
Make Your Common Law Marriage Official: Get Professional Legal Help
Whether or not your relationship is considered a common law marriage can have an enormous impact on your property rights. If you live in a common law marriage state, you'll want to know what your options are if you're living with your long-term partner but not married. Eliminate the guesswork and get in touch with a local family law attorney today.