common law marriage

Primary tabs

Common law marriage may be briefly described as a marriage without formal solemnization or without formalities such as a marriage license or ceremony. Although mere cohabitation is insufficient to establish a common-law marriage, cohabitation is generally required as an element in the formation of a valid common-law marriage. Most states have abolished common law marriages but some states still allow common-law marriages that occurred before a certain date to be grandfathered in and still recognized. However, all states recognize common-law marriages from other states under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]