When is Common Law Marriage?

when is common law marriage


Do you think that if you and your partner are living together, you might already be in a common law marriage, even if you don’t go through a legal ceremony? You’re not alone in wondering, “when is common law marriage?”

In this article, we will explore what a common law marriage is and the requirements for creating one. From location-based to mutual agreement requirements, you’ll be sure to have all your questions answered to help determine when common law marriage is, or isn’t, applicable for your situation.

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common Law marriage is a legal framework in which a couple is considered married even though they have never had a formal wedding ceremony or obtained a marriage license. In some states, it is necessary to meet certain criteria in order to qualify as a common law marriage.

These criteria may include living together for a certain period of time, holding yourselves out as husband and wife to the public, and having an agreement to be married. Understanding when common law marriage applies is an important part of forming a successful marriage.

Common Law Marriage Requirements

When it comes to Common Law Marriages, the age-old question is always the same – how do you know it’s official? For starters, Common Law Marriages are not recognized in all states, so it’s important to check the laws in the relevant jurisdictions. But for those places that do recognize Common Law Marriages, there are a few basic requirements.

Generally, the parties must have an ‘agreement to be married’ and must hold themselves out to others as a married couple. Additionally, couples must live together on a permanent basis and have a mutual understanding that they are married.

While not necessary, it’s usually a good idea to have witnesses to the marriage and create a valid marriage contract if available. Knowing the requirements in your state can help you have a clear understanding of when a Common Law Marriage exists.

Location-Based Requirements

Ah, common law marriage – the loophole that so many of us wish applied universally! Unfortunately, the rules regarding this type of union can vary drastically, depending on which state you reside in.

For some states, common law marriage is recognized and valid, but for other states, it does not exist at all. So, before you settle down for a cozy and somewhat unconventional relationship, be sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes a couple needs to reside in a state for a certain period of time in order to be considered legally married. If you’re not sure, consult a lawyer to be certain.

Duration-Based Requirements

You may be surprised to learn that a common law marriage is not just a matter of love, but also a matter of time. To be recognized as a common law marriage, a couple’s relationship must meet certain duration-based requirements: in some states, you must have been together for at least five years; in others, you must have been cohabitating for a minimum of seven years.

So, before you start throwing around those three little words, make sure you properly measure the length of your relationship. If you don’t, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable legal situation.

Mutual Agreement Requirements

Want to know when a common law marriage can be established? It’s not as simple as it seems! Generally, there are three primary requirements to consider if you want to be considered in a common law marriage: mutual agreement, intent to be married, and living together.

First, the couple must mutually agree to be married; second, they have to have the intent to be married; and third, they must live together. What’s more, the couple must maintain these requirements for a certain length of time, depending on the state. So, when it comes to common law marriage, it’s important to understand the legal requirements before you say “I do”!

Public Declaration Requirements

For those looking to enter into a common law marriage, there are certain public declaration requirements that must be met. First and foremost, you have to make it abundantly clear to everyone around you that you are a committed couple.

That means wedding announcements in the local newspaper and sharing the joyous news with family and friends. You may also want to get matching tattoos or share a significant piece of jewelry with your partner to symbolize your relationship. After all, common law isn’t just about living together – it’s about making a public commitment to each other.

Enforcement of Common Law Marriage Rights

Common law marriage may provide all the rights and privileges of traditional marriage, but it does have its limits. Depending on the state, some common law marriages may not be legally enforceable. For example, in New York, it is not possible to enforce common law marriage within the courts.

So if you are living in a common law marriage, be sure to check your state laws to ensure your rights are being upheld. Even if your common law marriage is not legally enforced, it is still important to document and understand the implications of your relationship.

Ending a Common Law Marriage

The end of a common law marriage is a bit trickier than the traditional, legally-binding kind. Although it’s not necessarily illegal to end a common law marriage, it depends on the individual state’s laws and regulations.

To end a common law marriage, the agreement of both parties is required, and all officially-held documents, such as tax returns, wills, and property papers must be updated to reflect the new status. If the parties do not agree to end the marriage, a court order may be required. In any case, it’s wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure all legal matters are handled properly.


In conclusion, common law marriage is a unique marital status that not many people know much about. However, in certain locales, couples who meet certain requirements may be able to be considered common law-married.

The requirements may involve the length of time they’ve lived together, a mutual agreement to become married, and a public declaration of their marriage. As of yet, there aren’t many places where common law spouses are considered the same as traditional married couples.

However, those who are considered common law spouses may still be entitled to the same rights and protections as traditional married couples, depending on their location. In the event that marriages end, common law marriages may need to be dissolved and any disputes that arise could end up in court. Knowing when and where common law marriage is allowed is essential for couples to understand and protect their rights.