In some states, cohabitation is not enough to qualify you and your partner for a common law marriage: you and your partner must behave like spouses and be qualified to enter a marriage (for example, you must both be of legal age). The IRS recognizes common-law marriages, so you can file your taxes jointly. You and your partner can even use the same last name. However, in the US, no state recognizes same-sex common-law marriages (although some states do recognize same-sex marriages, including Connecticut).
States that recognize heterosexual common law marriages are Alabama, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Other states recognize common law marriages that were notarized before a certain date: Georgia (pre-1997) Idaho (pre-1996) Ohio (pre-1991) Pennsylvania (pre-2005).
While some states may legally recognize common law marriage, there’s no such thing as a common law divorce: couples with valid common law marriages have to go through same divorce process as legally married couples.
About Carmina Tessitore
Carmina Tessitore is focused on the practice of family and matrimonial law, civil matters, foreclosure, business law, and mediation services. Her mission is to provide excellence in service and quality, tailored to the unique circumstances of each client’s matter.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.