Divorce After a Common Law Marriage


Pasadena divorce law does not recognize common law marriages originating in California, but does recognize common law marriages that took place in other states.

A common law marriage is a marriage that occurs without a marriage license or traditional wedding ceremony. In a common law marriage, a man and woman live together as a married couple by engaging in behaviors like filing joint tax returns, wearing wedding rings, or using the same last name.

States that allow common law marriage include:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (prior to 1/1/97)
  • Idaho (prior to 1/1/96)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Ohio (prior to 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

New Hampshire allows common law marriage for inheritance purposes only. In all other states allowing common law marriage, a couple with a valid common law marriage has the same rights and responsibilities as a couple who obtained a marriage license and had a traditional wedding ceremony.

Even though California does not allow common law marriage, you can still run into problems if you entered into a common law marriage in one of the states above and then move to California with the intent of marrying someone else. California residents can't enter into a common law marriage, but a common law marriage from another state will still be recognized as legally valid. This means that you would need to obtain a divorce in order to legally marry someone else. During the divorce, your assets would be divided according to California's community property laws.

Enlisting the services of a qualified divorce attorney is highly recommended if you need a divorce after a common law marriage. Since the laws regarding common law marriage are different in every state, an attorney can help you determine what you will need to do in order to be legally divorced.

How Can We Help?

If you have questions about how to handle divorce after a common law marriage, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our Pasadena divorce law firm is eager to provide the assistance you need.