Common Law Marriage Myths in California

Don Glass, Esq

$695 Flat Fee Low Cost Uncontested California Divorce Lawyer


California does not recognize common law marriage.

A couple becomes married by common law when there is no official ceremony but they still consider themselves married.

But there are certain criteria that’s required and not all states

recognize common law marriage.  Here are some Myths.


Myth #1 – All States recognize common law marriage

Most states, including California, DO NOT recognize common law

marriage.  Colorado, Rhode Island, Washington, DC, and a handful of

other states do acknowledge common law marriage.

Myth #2 – There is no way to have a common law marriage in California

If you live as a married couple (by common law) in a state that recognizes

common law and you move to California where you decide to pursue a

divorce, the courts will work with you. However, this issue quickly becomes

a complicated legal matter and should be discussed with an attorney.

Myth #3 – Common law marriage occurs when you live together for seven years

You can live together for one year or 20 years, but unless you meet very

specific criteria you won’t be considered married by common law.

Myth  #4 – You are married if you say you are married

You must meet specific criteria to be considered married by common law,

which includes:

1) Living in a state where common law marriage is recognized;

2) Acknowledging your partner as your spouse or taking your partner’s last name;

3) Filing joint tax returns; and

4) Acknowledging that you plan to marry.

Myth #5 – Courts don’t order support or property division for couples who never married

In California, the court recognizes palimony (Marvin claim). This means

that if a couple lives together for an extended period of time and splits, he

or she may have a right to receive support and/or a right to certain

property acquired during the relationship. Always speak with an attorney to

discuss your unique situation.


Don Glass, Esq
$695 Flat Fee Low Cost Uncontested California Divorce Lawyer