COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE - CONNECTICUT

 

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WHAT IS COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE?

Common-law marriage is an informal or non-ceremonial marriage, created by an agreement between a man and woman who have the legal right to marry. People who enter into a common-law marriage usually do not comply with legal formalities such as a marriage license. Connecticut does not recognize, and has never recognized, common-law marriage. Currently, only Alabama, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (recognizes common-law marriage for purposes of probate only), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah (recognizes common-law marriages only if they have been validated by a court or administrative order), recognize common-law marriages.  In California, for example, a marriage validly contracted in another jurisdiction is valid even if it could not be legally contracted within California; and a marriage that is not validly contracted in another U.S. jurisdiction, is not valid in California, even if it could have been legally contracted in that state.  Because Connecticut does not recognize common-law marriage, a man and a woman cannot enter into a common-law marriage in the state of Connecticut.

OUT-OF STATE COMMON LAW MARRIAGES

Connecticut’s Courts have followed the “…generally accepted rule that a marriage that is valid in the state where contracted is valid everywhere . . . . unless for some reason the marriage is contrary to the strong public policy of the state required to rule on its validity.” (Delaney v. Delaney)¹ This means that a common-law marriage recognized as valid in one of the states cited above will generally be accepted as valid in Connecticut. However, because common-law is established by court rulings rather than by legislation, people who have a common-law marriage, and then become residents of Connecticut, should not assume that their common-law marriage is automatically valid in Connecticut. If there are any legal disputes related to the common-law marriage, it may take a court ruling to establish a common-law marriage as valid. People who have a common-law marriage, and are considering a move to Connecticut, should consider consulting with competent legal counsel before moving to Connecticut.

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PREPARED BY: 211/kq
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: February2015