Common law marriages are recognized in a small number of states by a notarized affidavit or domestic partner agreement. A common law marriage is one without a marriage license. If you are in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you can show proof of your common-law relationship by providing an affidavit from you and your partner regarding your history together.
Some states, as well as the Social Security Administration, may also require affidavits from two people who are aware of your common-law relationship.
These documents must be notarized and filed with a county clerk. Depending on the jurisdiction, a certificate may be issued or the affidavit itself may be recognized as valid proof of marriage.
Requirements for an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage
The statements required include:
- The state where the two of you agreed to be husband and wife
- The date when you made this decision
- Any previous marriage relationships, both licensed and under common law. If there are any such marriages, you will need to provide wedding dates, and how the relationships ended, with documents supporting the termination.
- That you are 18 years old or older, and any other competence requirements for the state
The state where you are establishing your common law marriage should have a sample for you to use.
Affidavit in Support of Common Law Marriage
State of _______
County of ______
(Name), residing at (Street Address, City, State), attests to the following facts:
1. That on the ___ day of ____, affiant and (Name of Spouse) in good faith and mutually agreed to be a married couple and to assume all of the duties and responsibilities of a marriage relationship.
2. We have voluntarily cohabitated in the same household as spouses, and both holding ourselves out to the community in which we lived as a married couple during the following periods of time and in the following places:
From (Start and End Dates) at (Address)
(repeat for all addresses and dates)
3. The affiant was not previously married.
The affiant was previously married. (Give date and place of marriage, how terminated, and date and place of termination, providing the documentary evidence of the dissolution with your affidavit.)
4. We are eighteen years of age or older.
5. I understand that this agreement can be legally terminated only through death, divorce, or dissolution entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
6. I hereby swear and affirm that all of the foregoing statements are true and correct (Signature placed in presence of the notary)
Subscribed and duly sworn before me according to law by the above-named affiant, this ___ day of (Month, Year), at (City or town), County of _____, and State of _____.
(Signature of Notary and Title)
Witness Affidavit Requirements
Where required, affidavits from two witnesses should have this information:
- How long the two of you have lived together.
- A listing of addresses where you lived together.
- Any awareness of any public announcement of your common law marriage.
- Whether or not you were considered husband and wife among your neighbors, friends, and relatives.
Documents Supporting Affidavit
The following documents may be helpful in proving your common law marriage: naturalization certificate, immigration record, insurance policy, deeds, passport, child's birth certificate, bank records showing joint accounts as husband and wife, church, employment, and other records.
Providing false information, or concealing important facts can be considered a violation of the law and may be punishable by a fine, or imprisonment, or both (18 U.S.C. 1001).