You will be considered legally married if you meet certain requirements that your state has legislated for a common-law marriage. In common-law marriages, a couple doesn’t need any legal document that shows that they are married, but they appear to be a married couple.
In other terms, it is a legal concept that applies to couples who are living together in a relationship without having any state-sanctioned legal document such as a marriage certificate or license. A common law marriage offers some of the benefits of a licensed or a formal marriage.
But here we need to know that neither all 50 states allow common-law marriages, nor do they recognize these marriages. So which states have common-law marriages? And what are the requirements for it, are discussed later in this article.
States offering common law marriages
- Iowa: Common law contract requires the consent of both parties. Otherwise, there are no explicit restrictions for the common law marriage in Iowa.
- Colorado: Marriages that are contacted after Sept. 1, 2006 are valid. For those who want to marry under the provisions of the common law, they must be over 18 years of age or older. In Colorado, if you meet the requirements there’s no prohibition of the common law marriage.
- Kansas: At Kansas common-law marriages will be lawfully accepted if the individuals are over 18 years of age.
- South Carolina: A common law marriage is allowed in South Carolina with a valid license.
- New Hampshire: Couples who are willing to live together with each other for the period of three years will be considered lawfully married.
- Texas: In Texas, common law marriages are allowed in specific circumstances,
- Utah: Couples who are legally capable of making decisions for themselves, mutually agreed on the marital rights are said to be eligible for common law marriage,
Not all states provide the legal rights to couples to get married according to provisions for common law marriages. Every state holds specific requirements and needs a marriage license to consider couples as married.
However, there are some states that allow common law marriages previously, but the rules for them are not valid and are abolished recently. These states include Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Alabama, and Florida.
Common law marriage requirements
Typically, if you want to get married under the provisions of the common law, the requirements are approximately the same as they are for a formal marriage. The four main requirements within some states that need to be met before you apply for a common law marriage are:
- Both parties must possess the capacity to maintain the marriage-related obligations.
- Individuals who want to call themselves married, must live together. (number of living years can vary among the states).
- Must be eligible to get married.
- Must be capable to hold the status of a married couple in public, and in front of friends and family.
Before considering a couple as a rightful husband and wife, state courts may need to see the evidence for using the same bank account, changing the last name, or staying with the current names, etc.
Some common law marriage myths and realities
The United States Constitution requires the sister states to recognize the common law marriage couples legally rightful as any other state law recognizes. Most of the rights for common law marriages and formal marriages are the same, but there are several myths about common law marriage that exist, even today. Regardless of what you know about the rights, the following declarations are myths.
- Constitutional requirements vary among the states, the two main factors that are legally essential are: holding out and cohabitation. Here, the term ‘holding-out’ means that the couple has to perform such actions to tell everybody that they are legally married. For instance, the woman has to put her husband’s name with hers, or file the tax return jointly.
- The property which was bought during common law marriage, will be divided equally when the couple gets divorced.
- Rights to divide the assets including family belongings are only permitted to formally married couples.
- A spouse, who is the owner of the residential property of the family, can sell it or convert the property into a mortgage without having the consent of the other partner.
- There is no concept like common law divorce. If you are living together for three years, after common law marriage, you will still need to file divorce legally.
Although, there is no idea that such a thing exists that if a couple is in a living relationship for more than six years they will automatically be called lawfully married. Meanwhile, the common law states that the couple needs to sign the date to the agreement they intend to or not to be married.
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