There are various rules that govern the existence and recognition of a common law marriage. However, these rules vary from one state to the other.

You might meet someone you intend to spend the rest of your life with but might not be so intent on having the marriage legalized for whatever reason. Even if you have no marriage certificate, there are instances when the law will consider you married to someone you live with.

This is regarded as a common-law marriage. The primary distinction between a traditional and common law marriage is the lack of a marriage certificate. Should you, however, decide to separate after you have kids, you will still need child custody lawyers based in Albuquerque to guide your case.

This is because, in some states, you will be considered married, making it essential that the parent who gets custody is the one in the child’s best interests. This, however, does not mean that any person you live with for some time will be considered your spouse in common law.

Here are the elements of a valid common law marriage.


Cohabitation in this context will require you and your spouse to live together continually instead of occasionally. In the states that recognize a common law marriage, there are specific timeframes on how long people should cohabit to be considered married.

In most jurisdictions, the minimum period is three years. Moreover, the cohabitation should also involve some form of sexual relationship. There nonetheless exist no clear standards on the degree and features of this sexual relationship.

Public Representation as Spouses

You cannot expect the law to recognize you as married if you do not present yourselves as such to the public. For you to be considered spouses under common law marriage, you should also publicly present yourselves as such.

This might include the use of your husband’s name, loan applications as husband and wife, filing joint tax returns and introducing yourselves to others as married. This means that no couple can purport to have a secret common-law marriage.


Nobody finds him/herself accidentally in a common la marriage. You and your husband or wife should have the present intention to get married rather than do so in the future. You thus cannot be married under the common law marriage if you are engaged at the moment or have plans to get married formally in the future.

The intent in common law marriage means a current intention to be married.


For your marriage to be considered legal, you should be eligible to enter it in the first place. Some of the elements of capacity in common law marriage include an appropriate age, mental stability, and no pre-existing marital status or consanguinity.

The partners in a common-law marriage should both be above eighteen years old, unlike other forms of marriage where people less than this age can marry if they have their parents’ consent.

People have found themselves in court cases being dragged through the division of their property and sometimes inheritance by people they did not consider themselves married to in the first place. With the above elements and depending on your state’s laws, the person you are living with might be regarded as your husband or wife. You should thus be well informed when making various life choices.

This is a contributed/sponsored post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *