A common law marriage is a type of marriage in which two individuals become legally married without obtaining a marriage license or undergoing a formal ceremony. Instead, they establish a marital relationship by living together as a married couple and presenting themselves as such to the public. While common law marriages are recognized in some states, they are not legal in others. In this article, we will explore which states honor common-law marriages.
What is a Common Law Marriage?
A common law marriage is a marriage that is recognized by the state without a marriage license or a formal ceremony. The couple establishes their marital relationship by living together as a married couple and presenting themselves as such to the public. To prove the existence of a common law marriage, the couple must meet certain requirements, such as living together for a certain period of time and having the intent to be married.
What States Recognize Common Law Marriages?
Not all states recognize common-law marriages. As of 2021, the following states recognize common-law marriages:
- District of Columbia
- Georgia (if established prior to 1997)
- Idaho (if established prior to 1996)
- New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
- Ohio (if established prior to 1991)
- Pennsylvania (if established prior to 2005)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
It is important to note that the requirements for establishing a common-law marriage vary by state. In some states, the couple must live together for a certain period of time, while in others, they must present themselves as a married couple in public.
Why Does It Matter if a State Recognizes Common Law Marriages?
If a state recognizes common law marriages, the couple will be treated as legally married for all purposes, including inheritance, property rights, and divorce. However, if a state does not recognize common-law marriages, the couple will not have the legal protections and benefits that come with being married.
Common law marriages can be a confusing and complicated area of law. While they are recognized in some states, they are not legal in others. If you are in a common law marriage or considering entering into one, it is important to understand the requirements and legal implications of your state’s laws. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you navigate this area of law and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.