Several of my friends are going through this. They love each other very much, but do not want to jump into marriage pool. Both of these couples have been together for several years and every now and again, the subject comes up. Does North Dakota have common law marriage?

What Does Common Law Marriage Mean?

A common law marriage is one that didn't take place the customary way, with a wedding ceremony and a marriage license that was signed. Simply said, a couple is two people who choose to live together. It is not necessary to have a ceremony, a license, or any other legal papers. There is a running joke between all of us that they are living in sin. (Gasp!)

Some Common Law Benefits

If you and your partner meet certain criteria, you may be considered married by common law. There are several benefits to common-law marriage, the primary one being legal recognition of your relationship. In addition, common law marriage offers couples property division rights, inheritance rights, and possibly spousal maintenance if the relationship ends. Therefore, you should have a clear understanding of common-law marriage and its benefits, particularly if you are currently in an unmarried relationship.
TSM Media Center
TSM Media Center

What States Recognize Common Law Marriage

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if the relationship began prior to 1/1/97)
  • Idaho (if the relationship began prior 1/1/96)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (inheritance only)
  • Ohio (if the relationship began prior 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma (Conflicting laws, discuss with a family law attorney)
  • Pennsylvania (if the relationship began prior 1/1/05)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
Remember, each state has different requirements for a long-term relationship to qualify as common law.
The long answer to the question asked at the beginning of this article is no, North Dakota.
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