A question I receive fairly often is whether or not common law marriage is recognized in Arizona. This article is designed to address what common law marriage is and explain when Arizona acknowledges it.
What Is Common Law Marriage?
While there is some variance from state to state as to what specific requirements exist to enter into a common law marriage, the general idea is that after two people live together for a certain amount of time and hold themselves out as husband and wife, they become married without having to otherwise formally recognize the marriage.
Does Arizona Recognize Common Law Marriage?
Arizona does not generally recognize common law marriage. A.R.S. § 25-111. So if you are living in the state of Arizona and are concerned that you are going to accidentally become married, you can relax.
There are only a small handful of states that do recognize common law marriage. They include: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Also, the District of Columbia recognizes common law marriage.
However, our state does recognize common law marriage in one limited scenario: when the parties entered into a common law marriage in another state and then moved here. In that situation, Arizona will acknowledge the validity of a common law marriage.
Concerns With Cohabiting In Arizona
Despite the fact that Arizona does not recognize common law marriages, there are still potential legal implications of living with a significant other, also known as cohabitation. If you move in with another person, Arizona can recognize an implicit contract between yourself and that other person that can be extracted from the circumstances. Thus, if you create a pattern of sharing in acquiring things or dealing with debts in a routine way, it’s possible that you can be sued for your share of something later on.
If you have any concerns about whether you may have entered into a common law marriage, or if you are contemplating moving in with a significant other, you should speak with a licensed family law attorney to make sure you have considered all the potential legal implications.