California does NOT Recognize Common Law Marriages

What Is a Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriages are marriages that take place without a ceremony. Instead, a common law marriage is a marriage that is established when two partners file an affidavit stating that you have mutually agreed to become husband and wife.

How to Get a Common Law Marriage

Typically, a couple who wants a common law marriage will also request that others who know them to also file an affidavit that explains how long the couple has lived together, their address, and whether or not there was any public announcement of the marriage. Also, friends and family can file affidavits saying whether or not they have always regarded the couple as married.

Normally, the couple will also need to provide deeds showing the title to the property that is held jointly by both parties and bank statements and checks that show that they have joint ownership of their accounts.

Common Law Marriage Is Not Recognized in California

Unfortunately, common law marriage is not recognized in California. That means that regardless of how long a couple lives together, they are not considered married unless they go through the process of obtaining a marriage license and saying vows before an officiant who can also sign the certificate.

If you would like to form a common law marriage, then you will have to travel to a state that recognizes arrangements of this type. These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah

In California, you will need to obtain a marriage license at a local family courthouse and have it filled out and signed by both a witness and an officiant in order to get your marriage legalized.

Contact Claery & Hammond if you need more information about this, or if you have been living with a partner for years but are moving on and need assistance with property distribution!