Legal Information and Resources by State

The chart below provides a breakdown of legal marriage, domestic partnership or civil union laws in each state. UE does not have attorneys on staff and therefore cannot provide legal advice. Please reach out to your state bar contact or legal aid society for answers to your legal questions. Please note that income requirements for free or low-cost services vary by state. If you believe any corrections or updates need to be made to the chart, please email us at ue@unmarried.org. Watch this informative video about common law marriage: Common Law Marriage: How Facebook Can Help. *Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for permission to access its legislative research.


ALABAMA

Common Law Marriage: Yes. 1) capacity; (2) an agreement to be husband and wife; and (3) consummation of the marital relationship. Find out more.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: None
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Alabama State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Alabama Legal Help / Legal Services Alabama

ALASKA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: None
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Alaska Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Alaska Law Help / Alaska Bar Association – Pro Bono Legal Service Providers

ARIZONA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register a domestic partnership in Phoenix and Tucson. They do not need to be residents of either city.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Public State Bar of Arizona
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Family Lawyers Assistance Project

ARKANSAS

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: In Eureka Springs same- and different-sex couples can register as domestic partners. They do not need to be residents of the city.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Arkansas Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Arkansas Legal Services Partnership – Family Law

CALIFORNIA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Between June 17 and November 4, 2008, more than 18,000 same-sex couples married in California. On November 4, 2008, voters in California narrowly approved Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Proposition 8 is currently awaiting a Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality. Same-sex marriages legally entered into on or before Nov. 4, 2008, in other states or countries will be recognized as marriages under California law. Same-sex marriages taking place in other states or countries after Nov. 4, 2008, will only be recognized as domestic partnerships
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: The state’s domestic partner law extends health care, estate planning and adoption benefits to unmarried couples who have registered as domestic partners. The law gives same-sex couples some of the essential resources necessary to protect their families and their relationships.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: The State Bar of California
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Law Help California

COLORADO

Common Law Marriage: Yes. A common-law marriage may be established by proving cohabitation and a reputation of being married.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register a domestic partnership.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Colorado Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Colorado Legal Services: Free or Low Cost Legal Services

CONNECTICUT

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage:
Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register a domestic partnership in Hartford and do NOT need to be city residents.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Connecticut State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc.

DELAWARE

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes (as of 7/1/13)
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can form civil unions.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Delaware State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Delaware State Courts: Legal Assistance

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Common Law Marriage: Yes
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can enter into a domestic partnership.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer:
The District of Columbia Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services:
Law Help DC

FLORIDA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register in Broward County, Key West, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade, and West Palm Beach. However one registrant must be employed by the county or be residents of Broward or Miami-Dade.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Illegal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: The Florida Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Florida Legal Assistance to the Poor Directory

GEORGIA

Common Law Marriage: Yes, if created before 1/1/97
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can register as domestic partners in the Unified Gov. of Athens-Clarke County and Fulton County. They must be residents or at least one partner must be a county employee. Different-sex couples can also register in Athens-Clarke. In Atlanta, registering couples must be city residents.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Georgia
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Georgia Legal Aid

HAWAII

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can form civil unions. Any unions, domestic partnerships or same-sex marriages from other states would be recognized as civil unions in Hawaii. As of 1997, same-sex couples can enter into a reciprocal beneficiary relationship.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Hawaii State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid Society of Hawaii

IDAHO

Common Law Marriage: Yes, if created before 1/1/96
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Idaho Law Foundation
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Idaho Law Foundation / Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc: Client Services

ILLINOIS

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can form civil unions. Same-sex couples can register as domestic partners in Cooks County and the Village of Oak Park. To register in Oak Park, the couple must be residents. Same- and different-sex couples can register in Urbana and DO NOT need to be residents of the city.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Illinois State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Illinois Legal Aid: Helpful Organizations

INDIANA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Judicial Branch of Indiana
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Indiana Legal Services: Find Legal Help

IOWA

Common Law Marriage: Yes. (1) intent and agreement to be married; (2) continuous cohabitation; and (3) public declarations that the parties are husband and wife.
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register as domestic partners in Iowa City.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Iowa State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Iowa Legal Aid

KANSAS

Common Law Marriage: Yes. (1) have the mental capacity to marry; (2) agree to be married at the present time; and (3) represent to the public that they are married.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register as a domestic partnership in the city of Lawrence and DO NOT need to be residents.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Kansas Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: List of Free Pro Bono Legal Advice Programs in Kansas

KENTUCKY

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Kentucky Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services:
Legal Aid Network of Kentucky

LOUISIANA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: In New Orleans, domestic partnerships are open to same- and different-sex couples but they either must be residents of the city or at least one partner must be a city employee.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Louisiana State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Directory of Free and Low Cost Services in Louisiana

MAINE

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Yes, domestic partnerships for same- and different- sex couples. In Portland, registering couples must be residents of the city.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Maine State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Pine Tree Legal Assistance

MARYLAND

Common Law Marriage: No. However, Maryland does recognize common law marriages formed in other states.
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different- sex couples can register as domestic partners.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Maryland State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition: Free or Low Cost Legal Help

MASSACHUSETTS

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register in Boston, Brewster, Cambridge, Nantucket and Provincetown and do NOT need to be residents of the city/county. Domestic partnerships are only open to same-sex couples in Brookline but there is NO residency requirement.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Massachusetts Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Massachusetts Legal Services: Directory

MICHIGAN

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Couples can register as domestic partners in Ann Arbor and DO NOT need to be residents of the city. With payment, notarized applications will be accepted by mail.
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Michigan
Living Together/Cohabitation: Illegal
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Michigan Legal Aid

MINNESOTA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes (as of 8/1/13)
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Approximately 18 cities have domestic partner registries for same- and/ or different-sex couples. In the cities of Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, same- and different-sex couples can register and do NOT need to be residents. In Edina, one of the partners must either be a city employee or resident. Domestic partnerships in Edina are open to same- and different-sex couples.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Minnesota State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Minnesota Legal Services Coalition

MISSISSIPPI

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Illegal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: The Mississippi Bar – *The MS Bar does not offer referral services.
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Mississippi’s Legal Services Resource Center

MISSOURI

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register as domestic partners in the city of Columbia. In St. Louis, registering same- and different-sex couples must be city residents. In Kansas city, couples DO NOT need to be residents to register.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: The Missouri Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Services of Missouri

MONTANA

Common Law Marriage: Yes. (1) capacity to consent to the marriage; (2) an agreement to be married; (3) cohabitation; and (4) a reputation of being married.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Montana
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Montana Legal Services Association: Get Legal Help / Montana Law Help: Families and Kids

NEBRASKA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Nebraska State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid of Nebraska: Apply for Help

NEVADA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples can register a domestic partnership.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Nevada
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Nevada Legal Services Directory

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Common Law Marriage: Yes. Only posthumously, for inheritance purposes.
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Domestic partnerships have not been performed since legalization of same-sex marriage in 2011.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: New Hampshire Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: New Hampshire Legal Assistance / New Hampshire Bar Association: Free Legal Services

NEW JERSEY

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples or different-sex couples over 62 years old can register as domestic partners.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: New Jersey State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Services of New Jersey href=”http://www.probononj.org/web_applications/PBNJ/ProviderDirectory.aspx” target=”_blank”>Pro Bono New Jersey

NEW MEXICO

Common Law Marriage: Yes
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of New Mexico
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: New Mexico Legal Service Programs

NEW YORK

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex partners can register a domestic partnership and need NOT be residents of these cities: Albany, Ithaca, and Rochester. Couples must be residents of Southampton Town. In these cities/counties it is unclear if there is a residency requirement: East Hampton and Westchester County. Domestic partnership registries are open to same- and different-sex couples in these cities/counties, but you must either be a resident or one partner must be employed by the city/county government: Rockland County, Suffolk County, and New York City.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: New York State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Law Help New York: Family and Juvenile / Legal Services NYC

NORTH CAROLINA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: In Chapel Hill, same- and different-sex couples can register as domestic partners and DO NOT need to be residents of the town. In Carrboro, domestic partnerships are open to same- and different-sex couples but they either must be residents of the town or at least one partner must be a town employee.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: North Carolina Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid of North Carolina

NORTH DAKOTA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar Association of North Dakota
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Services of North Dakota

OHIO

Common Law Marriage: Yes, if created before 10/10/91
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: In Columbus (as of August 29, 2012) same-sex couples could register a domestic partnership. In Cleveland same- and different-sex couples can register AND do NOT need to be residents of the city.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Ohio State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Ohio Legal Services: Family Law

OKLAHOMA

Common Law Marriage: Yes, but possibly only if created before 11/1/98. Requirements: (1) be competent; (2) agree to enter into a marriage relationship; and (3) cohabit.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Oklahoma Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc / Oklahoma Bar Association: Low Cost or No Cost Legal Assistance

OREGON

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can enter into a domestic partnership. There is no residency requirement to register in the cities of Ashland and Eugene. However, domestic partnerships are only available to same-sex couples in Ashland. In Multnomah County, both partners must be there to register.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Oregon State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid Services of Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA

Common Law Marriage: Yes, if created before 1/1/2005.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can register a domestic partnership in Philadelphia. In Pittsburgh, domestic partnerships are open to same- and different-sex couples but they either must be residents of the city or at least one partner must be a city employee.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Pennsylvania Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network: Legal Help Finder

RHODE ISLAND

Common Law Marriage: Yes. Requirements: (1) serious intent to be married and (2) conduct that leads to a reasonable belief in the community that the man and woman are married.
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes (as of 8/1/13)
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples can form civil unions, though the law has an attached religious exemption clause. Therefore, in some cases, civil unions will NOT be recognized.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Rhode Island Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Help Rhode Island Law

SOUTH CAROLINA

Common Law Marriage: Yes. Requirement: (1) a man and woman intend for others to believe they are married.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: South Carolina Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Law Help South Carolina / Directory of Services for Women and Families in South Carolina

SOUTH DAKOTA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of South Dakota
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Dakota Plains Legal Services

TENNESSEE

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Tennessee Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Tennessee Bar Association – Legal Aid/Legal Services in Tennessee

TEXAS

Common Law Marriage: Yes. Requirements: (1) A man and woman who want to establish a common-law marriage must sign a form provided by the county clerk. In addition, they must (2) agree to be married, (3) cohabit, and (4) represent to others that they are married.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex and different-sex couples can register a domestic partnership in Travis County. You do NOT need to be a resident of the county to register.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Texas
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Texas Law Help – Family Law

UTAH

Common Law Marriage: Yes. Requirements: (1) be capable of giving consent and getting married; (2) cohabit; and (3) have a reputation of being husband and wife.
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No. However, in Salt Lake City, a Mutual Commitment Registry is open to city residents.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Utah State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Utah Legal Services

VERMONT

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Not performed since legalization of same-sex marriage in 2009.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Vermont Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: DRM Family Law Group

VIRGINIA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Illegal – As of February 2013, Virginia is considering removing the ban.
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Virginia State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Virginia Legal Aid

WASHINGTON

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: Yes
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same-sex couples and different-sex couples where one member is at least 62 years old can form domestic partnerships. In the cities of Lacey and Tumwater, same- and different-sex couples must be residents. In Seattle and Olympia there is no residency requirement and registration is open to same- and different-sex couples/.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Washington State Bar Association
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Washington Law Help – Family Law

WEST VIRGINIA

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: West Virginia State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid of West Virginia

WYOMING

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: No
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: Wyoming State Bar
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Aid of Wyoming

WISCONSIN

Common Law Marriage: No
Same-Sex Marriage: No
Domestic Partnership / Civil Union: Same- and different-sex couples that are residents of the city of Madison can register as a domestic partnership. Only same-sex couples and residents can register in Milwaukee.
Living Together/Cohabitation: Legal
State Bar Contact – Find A Lawyer: State Bar of Wisconsin
Free or Low Cost Legal Services: Legal Action of Wisconsin – Family Law

Last updated 02/2013.