Common Law Marriages – Where And How?

You're reading Common Law Marriages – Where And How?, posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 7:49 am in Relationship Tips, on BrainBloggers at the Everyday Life blog. More after the jump.

There are a lot of options for people in love today to be recognized as a couple in the eyes of the law. Among these options, are the common law marriages. In general terms, it is the actions of a couple who are not legally married or do not possess a marriage certificate. But they have cohabited for a period of time, usually for more than a year or so and present to the world as husband and wife. However there are many hurdles to this particular law. For instance, states such as Michigan have completely removed the concept of common law marriage statute. Contradicting it, when a couple is married under a different state’s law, their marriage will be recognized as long as it is a legal binding matter. The usual “full faith and credit” in the Constitution of the US forces a state to recognize the marriage under the laws of another state.

There are a few states that recognize common law marriages. Some of these states are listed as below (alphabetically):



Georgia (if existed before 1/1/97)

Idaho (if existed before 1/1/96)




New Hampshire (for inheritance purpose only)

Ohio (if before 10/10/91)

Oklahoma (if created before 11/1/98)

Pennyslvania (if created before 1/1/95)

Rhode Island

South Carolina



Washington DC

Effect of common law marriages in New York- Although the State of New York has eliminated the concept of this category of marriage, the state may very well be forced to recognize the marriage as per the US constitution. If a couple residing in New York is a product of these marriages, take a vacation in a state such as Iowa or Montana, the courts in New York will have to recognize the marriage. However, the courts may require some proof of cohabitation (such as hotel receipts) or the renewal of private marriage vows is mandatory. This is because, New York usually or exclusively recognizes a marriage, when it is recognized by a state that validates common law marriage. It is also very important to understand the elements of this form of marriage.

Another thing to be kept in mind is, a common law marriage is much more than just living together. Most couple who live together, do not intend to be married. The intention of being married is one of the premises of these kind of marriages. Another thing to watch out for, if one goes for this marriage, believing that, in case of the demise of the relationship, they can avoid a divorce, that is a myth. Infact, these marriages have a tendency to be more complicated, since it needs to be proved first, that the marriage is a common law one and then divorce proceedings are initiated.

Another problem with this category of marriage is, the relationship may involve various legal rights and if one wishes to exercise those rights, they can find themselves being challenged in court.

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