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What is Common Law Marriage?

Navigation:  Home > Legal Questions > What is Common Law Marriage?


First off, these states permit common law marriage (if you don't live in one of these states, forget about it):




District of Columbia

Georgia (before 1996)

Idaho (before 1995)




Ohio (before 1991)



Rhode Island

South Carolina




So, what is common law marriage? It's a situation wherein a couple can be married without actually having to go through a ceremony or get a marriage license. How do you achieve common law marriage status? First, you'll need to live with your partner for a long time - though, the amount of time is not specified. You'll also need to hold yourself out as being married, i.e. tell your family, friends, and folks passing by for a place to stay or offer you phone service that you are married. Finally, for a common law marriage to exist, the couple must actually intend to get married.


If all these conditions apply, and you live in one of the above states, you are considered married, and you can gain the same rights as actual married couples. If you are in doubt, however, run on down to the JP and get yourself hitched, or pour some money into the economy and buy yourself a big old extravagant wedding.

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