A "common law marriage" is one in which the parties may hold themselves out as a husband and wife, and under certain circumstances, be deemed married without a marriage license or ceremony. Georgia doesn't have a common law marriage, however Georgia does recognize common law marriages that occured in other states.
- If my partner and I live together long enough, won't we have a common law marriage?
- Which states recognize common law marriage?
Contrary to popular belief, even if two people live together for a certain number of years, if they don't intend to be married and present themselves to others as a married couple, there is no common law marriage. More particularly, a common law marriage can occur only when:
- a heterosexual couple lives together in a state that recognizes common law marriages
- for a significant period of time (not defined in any state)
- holding themselves out as a married couple -- typically this means using the same last name, referring to the other as "my husband" or "my wife" and filing a joint tax return, and
- intending to be married.
Unless all four are true, there is no common law marriage. When a common law marriage exists, the couple must go through a formal divorce to end the relationship.(back to top)
Common law marriage is recognized only in the following states:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina