How exactly do you establish common law marriage?

Many Kansans are misinformed as to what qualifies as “Common Law Marriage.” For example, I have heard on more than one occasion the belief that a couple would be considered married under the common law if they merely live together for seven years. Fortunately, you do not have to wonder anymore. Kansas law is straight forward on what is required to be married under the common law.

There are three easy to distinguish requirements that all must be met to be common law married.

1) You must have capacity.

In Kansas, the state will not recognize a common-law marriage if either individual is ineligible to be formally married. Further, a common-law marriage will not be recognized if either individual is under eighteen years of age. For all the young lovers out there, this means that you cannot tie the knot in Kansas under common law until you reach age eighteen.

2) There must be a present agreement.

In addition to having the capacity to get married, the couple must have a “present marriage agreement.”  A present marriage agreement means that the couple must agree to be married at that very moment, and not sometime in the future. The present marriage agreement does not have to be in any particular form, such as a written contract. This requirement can be fulfilled as easily as you and your significant other making a verbal agreement to be married.

3) The couple must hold themselves out to the public as being married.

Next, the couple must hold themselves out as married to the public. For example, if you were to introduce your significant other to strangers as your husband or wife, then you are already holding yourself out as married to the public.

It is as simple as the three steps listed above: 1) The couple must both have the capacity to get married; 2) The couple must have entered a present marriage agreement; and 3) The couple must hold themselves out to the public as being married.

Surprisingly, there is no minimum time period that the couple must have lived together to be married under common law. Also, whether someone is married under the common law, or married through a license, the same obligations under the law will apply to either couple. If a couple is married under common law and decides that they no longer want to be married, then a court ordered divorce to dissolve the marriage would be necessary just as it would through marriage by license.

Remember, the information throughout this webpage is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Legal advice must always be customized to the individual case. Further, the information on this webpage does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Gilchrist & Fields Law Firm.