Common law marriage is a marriage that results from the actions of a couple, despite the fact that they have not obtained a marriage license or fulfilled the requirements of a state's statutory marriage laws. This typically means that the couple has cohabitated for a period of time, usually a year or more, while having an agreement to be married and holding themselves out to the world as husband and wife.
Not every state permits common law marriages. For example, Michigan has elimated common law marriage by statute, and no period of cohabitation will result in marriage. At the same time, where a couple became married under the common law of a different state or country, their marriage is likely to be recognized even in a state such as Michigan. The "full faith and credit" rule of the U.S. Constitution ordinarily compels the recognition of a marriage made valid under the laws of a sister state.
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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/