Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Common Law
Cohabitation Do's and Dont's
If You Live in a State that does Recognize Common Law Marriage
If You Live in a State that does not Recognize Common Law Marriage
States that Recognize Common Law Marriage
States that Recognize Common Law
Only a few states recognize common law marriages:
Alabama. In this state, the parties must agree to be husband and wife, they must have the mental capacity to enter into and understand such an agreement, and they must consummate the marital relationship.
Colorado. In order for a common law marriage to exist in Colorado, the relationship must be proven by the cohabitation of the common law spouses and their reputation for being married.
District of Columbia. In the District, a common law marriage is established by the parties' explicit intent to be married and by their cohabitation.
Georgia (if created before 1/1/97)
Idaho (if created before 1/1/96)
Iowa. A common law marriage is established in Iowa by the parties' intent and agreement to be married, their continuous cohabitation, and their public declarations that they are husband and wife.
Kansas. In Kansas, the man and woman must have the mental capacity to marry, they must agree to be married at the present time, and they must represent to the public that they are married in order for a common law marriage to exist.
Montana: The requirements for a common-law marriage are: (1) capacity to consent to the marriage; (2) an agreement to be married; (3) cohabitation; and (4) a reputation of being married.
New Hampshire. This state recognizes common law marriages only upon the death of one of the spouses. In other words, common law marriages are recognized in New Hampshire for inheritance purposes only.
Ohio (if created before 10/10/91)
Oklahoma: To establish a common-law marriage, a man and woman must (1) be competent; (2) agree to enter into a marriage relationship; and (3) cohabit. (possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Oklahoma's laws and court decisions may be in conflict about whether common law marriages formed in that state after 11/1/98 will be recognized.)
Pennsylvania: A common-law marriage may be established if a man and woman exchange words that indicate that they intend to be married at the present time.(if created before 9/03)
Rhode Island: The requirements for a common-law marriage are: (1) serious intent to be married and (2) conduct that leads to a reasonable belief in the community that the man and woman are married.
South Carolina: A common-law marriage is established if a man and woman intend for others to believe they are married.
Texas: A man and woman who want to establish a common-law marriage must sign a form provided by the county clerk. In addition, they must (1) agree to be married, (2) cohabit, and (3) represent to others that they are married.
Utah: For a common-law marriage, a man and woman must (1) be capable of giving consent and getting married; (2) cohabit; and (3) have a reputation of being husband and wife.
Source: It's Legal! Legal Information Network,
whose website no longer exists. We are not responsible for omissions
or inaccuracies in the above information.
If You Live in a State that does Recognize
Common Law Marriage
If You Live in a State that does not
Recognize Common Law Marriage
Source: Much of the information on this fact sheet comes from an excellent do-it-yourself legal guide called Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, by attorneys Toni Ihara, Ralph Warner, and Frederick Hertz (2000). The authors of this information are not attorneys. If you have additional questions about common law marriage in your state, seek the assistance of a lawyer. www.unmarried.org/common.html