Skip to main content

Common Law Marriage - The Accidental Marriage

Posted by attorney Charles Hardy

Common Law Marriage - The Accidental Marriage

A. Formal Marriages Most of us are familiar with "Formal Marriages", which involve church weddings or weddings before a Judge or Justice of the Peace and require a marriage license.

Requirements to obtain marriage license:

  1. Show proof of age;
  2. If age fourteen (14) to eighteen (18), show proof of parental consent; and
  3. Submit statement witnessed by two credible persons and verified stating that applicant does not own delinquent court-ordered child support.

B. Informal Marriages"Informal Marriages", also known as common law marriages, involve people living together and subsequently agreeing to be married. Informal marriages are just as enforceable as are formal marriages should the parties choose to get divorced.


  1. Parties agree to be married;
  2. After the agreement they live together in this state as husband and wife; and
  3. They represent to others that they were married.

Important Note - Statute of Limitations: If a lawsuit alleging a common law marriage is not commenced within two years after the parties separated and ceased living together, it is "rebuttably presumed" that they did not agree to be married. (In other words, if you are "common law married" and intend to file for divorce, it is important that you do so within the 2 years following your separation in order to fully protect yourself).

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?