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Do I have a common law marriage?

Do I have a common law marriage?

In Oklahoma it is possible to have a common law marriage. There are many misnomers out there about what it takes to have a common law marriage. Surprisingly, in Oklahoma it does not matter how long you have been together, if you share a joint checking account, or how long you have lived together.

When wondering if you have a common law marriage, the first question to ask is, “does my state recognize common law marriage.”  Oklahoma does.

Secondly, there are three main elements that must be met to form a common law marriage:

  1. The people must have a mutual agreement to enter into an exclusive and permanent marriage. This does not merely mean a monogamous relationship; you must actually intend and both agree to be husband and wife, with each other only.
  2. The parties must be legally capable of marriage. The parties must be unmarried prior to the common law marriage, as plural marriage is illegal in Oklahoma. The parties cannot be related; incest is absolutely prohibited. The parties must also be of the opposite sex, as homosexual marriage is also prohibited in Oklahoma. And, lastly, it is best if the parties are over the age of 18. While Oklahoma has held that minors can enter into a common law marriage, the marriage is voidable, meaning that it may not stand in court if challenged.
  3. The parties must “consummate” the marriage. This happens in one of two ways—by cohabitating or by the open mutual assumption of marital duties. What does this mean?! Well, if the parties do not cohabitate, the marriage can be consummated (effectuated) by things like taking the man’s surname, filing joint tax returns, entering into joint contracts, and holding each other out to the community as husband and wife.

If you have any questions about whether you have a common law marriage, please contact our office. Additionally, if you need proof of common law marriage, for any reason, please contact our office about drafting an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage. Initial consultations with the attorneys at Ward Lee & Coats are always free of charge.