How Marriage Works

More on Common Law Marriages

Common law marriage within the United States is legally recognized in:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

Common law marriage is legally recognized in five states under a grandfather clause. This means that the common law marriage must have formed prior to a certain date defined by that state:

  • Georgia - union declared prior to January 1, 1997
  • Idaho - union declared prior to January 1, 1996
  • Ohio - union declared prior to October 10, 1991
  • Oklahoma - union declared prior to November 1, 1998
  • Pennsylvania - union declared prior to January 1, 2005

Common law marriage is allowed only for inheritance purposes in New Hampshire.

Finally, though a couple who has a common law marriage doesn't have a marriage license or certificate, they still must go through the legal process of obtaining a divorce in order to end their marriage.

For more information about marriage and other related topics, please check out the links on the next page.

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