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What are the common law states?

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Quick Answer

The states that allow common-law marriages are South Carolina, Utah, Kansas, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, Iowa and Texas, as of 2015, states the National Conference of State Legislatures. Though not a part of their state statutes, in specific cases, common-law marriages have been upheld in Oklahoma, Alabama and Rhode Island.

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When two people are recognized as legally married without a marriage license, religious or civil ceremony, it is known as a common-law marriage, states the Social Security Administration. Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania are states that do not allow common-law marriage, as of 2015, but recognize the unions if they were entered into before the respective years that each state stopped recognizing them as valid, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Of the states that do acknowledge common-law marriages, some of them have certain requirements. For example, in Colorado and Kansas both parties must be at least 18 years of age. New Hampshire stipulates that the couple must have been living together as husband and wife for at least 3 years to be accepted as having a legitimate common-law marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In situations where there is a question of collection of federal benefits, particular evidence of the common-law marriage may be required, according to the Social Security Administration. In unique cases, exceptions are permitted, but preferred evidence, such as signed statements from both parties, or blood relatives if the parties are deceased, are generally required to prove the parties lived as a couple.

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