As of 2015, eight states allow couples to enter into common law marriages. A few of these states, such as Colorado and New Hampshire, have statutes expressly permitting common law marriage. Others, including Iowa and Montana, simply do not prohibit it.
Common law marriage is a legal relationship between two cohabitating adults who have not applied for a marriage license or participated in a wedding ceremony but who consider themselves to be husband and wife. Each state has the authority to determine what constitutes a common law marriage as well as whether or not the state will allow or recognize such a union.
In addition to states that permit or do not prohibit common law marriages, such as Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, several states have case law or public policy that recognizes common law marriages. These include Alabama, Rhode Island and Oklahoma.
Over the past five decades, several states that previously allowed common law marriages have changed their statutes. Indiana abolished common law marriage in 1958. Pennsylvania continued the practice until 2005. However, these states, as well as Ohio, Georgia and Florida, still recognize the marriages formed prior to the date that their legislatures eliminated common law marriages.