What is common law marriage?

A “common law marriage” is a marriage entered into between two people under “common law” rules.

Not all states allow people to become married at “common law” in that state. But every state recognizes a common law marriage entered into by two people in another state. A couple who has a “common law marriage” can only divorce by court order. There is no such thing as a “common law divorce.”

In Kansas, common law marriage is valid if:

1. The couple is of sufficient age and “mental capacity” (18 years old and understands what they are agreeing to do).

2. The couple has a “current intent” to be married (not an intent to become married sometime in the future).

3. The couple “holds themselves out to the public as husband and wife” (that is, they don’t keep their marriage private).