What constitutes a common law marriage?

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What constitutes a common law marriage?

In KS, are you considered common law married if: you have lived together for 20 years and have children together, but “wife” doesn’t go by “husband’s” last name and they do not present themselves to the public as “married”.

Asked on August 4, 2010 under Family Law, Kansas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

According to the Kansas Bar Association, a "common law marriage will be recognized in Kansas if the couple considers themselves to be married and publicly holds themselves out to be married and if they are legally eligible to marry. No minimum period of cohabitation is required."
Source: Ksbar.org

Holding yourself out as publicly married is, I am sure, decided on a case by case basis.  These days many wives that are married do not take their husband's last names.  And that was true 20 years ago as well.  Filing tax returns together is one "indicia" of marriage.  But holding yourself out as married does seem to be the key.  So if you don't then I would say that the scale tips in the "not married" direction.  Seek legal help.


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