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Which States Allow Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is recognized in the following states: Colorado, District of Columbia, Alabama, Montana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania (if it was entered before 9/2003), South Carolina, Utah, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio (if entered before 10/1991), Idaho (if it was entered before 1996), Georgia (if entered before 1997), and Oklahoma.

List of “Common Law” Marriage States

The following states allow common law marriages. Each state has different requirements for a long-term relationship to qualify as common law:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if the relationship began prior to 1/1/97)
  • Idaho (if the relationship began prior 1/1/96)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (inheritance only)
  • Ohio (if the relationship began prior 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma (Conflicting laws, discuss with a family law attorney)
  • Pennsylvania (if the relationship began prior 1/1/05)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

If a court determines that your common law marriage is valid, you will need to obtain a traditional divorce.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (888) 240-8146 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

What four elements must be present for a common law marriage to occur?

In states that recognize common law marriages, you must meet a few requirements to gain marital status. These requirements include:

  • You must live together for an amount of time (length depends on the state).
  • You both must have the "capacity to marry" (the legal right).
  • You must be 18 years old.
  • You both must intend to be married.
  • You both must present yourself as a married couple to others.

If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriages and you want to separate from your spouse, you will need to get a divorce.

Is common law marriage recognized in all 50 states?

No, common law marriage is not recognized in all 50 states. For example, common law marriage is recognized in Montana, but it is not recognized in Wisconsin.

Does common law marriage still exist in the US?

Yes, common law marriage does still exist in the US. It is only recognized in a few states though. And some states recognize it if the relationship began before a certain date.

What states honor common law marriages?

States that still have common law marriages are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and the District of Columbia.
However, there are nuances for many of the states. For example, Oklahoma has contradicting laws and New Hampshire only recognizes them for inheritance purposes.

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