A common law marriage is one where the “spouses” are considered as married although they do not have a marriage certificate or license or a marriage ceremony to solemnize the marriage. Few states today recognize common law marriages. In states that do recognize common law marriages, a common law spouse has the right to inherit the other spouse’s property upon the death of the other spouse. If the marriage ends, then each spouse is entitled to equitable distribution of property. One spouse can also claim alimony from the other in case the marriage ends. Among the state that recognize common law marriage, not all have provisions for common law marriages – they only recognize a common law marriage if it was valid in the state where the “spouses” got married.
Alabama – In Alabama, the spouses must agree to married and must have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of getting married and must consummate the relationship.
Colorado – In Colorado, the test for common law marriage is the cohabitation of the spouses and whether or not others who interacted with them thought or considered them as man and wife.
Washington DC – In the District of Columbia, the cohabitation and explicit intent to be married are the requirements of a common law marriage.
Iowa – The requirements for a common law marriage in Iowa are the intention and agreement of the spouses to be married, continuous cohabitation and publicly representing themselves as man and wife.
Kansas – Under Kansas law, for a common law marriage, the “spouses” must have the mental capacity to marry and must agree to be married. They must publicly represent themselves as man and wife.
New Hampshire – In New Hampshire, a common law marriage is recognized only for inheritance upon the death of one spouse.
Montana – Montana law requires consent to marry, agreement to marry, cohabitation and public representation of being man and wife.
Oklahoma – In Oklahoma, the requirements for a common law marriage are competency and agreement to be married and cohabitation.
Pennsylvania – Under Pennsylvania law, a common law marriage exists when a man and a woman exchange words indicating intent to be married.
Rhode Island – In Rhode Island, a man and woman will be considered as common law spouses if they a serious intention to get married and publicly conduct themselves in such a manner that others would consider them to be man and wife.
South Carolina – Under South Carolina law, a man and woman will be considered as common law spouses if they intend others to believe that they are man and wife.
Texas – Under Texas law a common law marriage is established when a man and woman sign a prescribed form available with the county clerk and both agree to be married and live together giving an impression to others that they are man and wife.
Utah – While Utah has no provisions for common law marriages, Utah courts can approve a prior common law marriage where the couple can legally consent to a marriage and have lived together as man and wife and publicly represented that they are married.