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Does Arizona Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Does Arizona Recognize Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage is when two people live together in an intimate relationship for a certain period of time without being married by a government official. The amount of time required varies. The couple must agree that they will be legally married after the relationship ends. Keep reading to get an answer to your question of does Arizona recognize common law marriage?

The History of Common Law Marriages.

Common law marriages were first recognized in England during the Middle Ages. In the United States, they were more widely accepted in the 1800s and early 1900s. Currently in the United States, some states recognize common law marriages while others do not.

Why You Should Care About Common Law Marriages.

If you have a valid common law marriage, then you are married. That’s important in a community property state, because the law protects spouses from being disinherited in probate if one spouse dies. It also protects spouses from being wiped out in a divorce.

Common law marriages are marriages where both parties agree to live together as husband and wife without being legally married. These unions are often referred to as “common law” because they are based on custom rather than statute. They are also known as “unofficial” or “informal” marriages.

The History of Common Law Marriages in Arizona.

In Arizona, common law marriage was recognized by the state legislature in 1887. However, they were banned in in Arizona 1913. (You may still have a valid common law marriage in Arizona. Read the next section.)

In the 1800s, people’s social norms were influenced by various factors. Customs varied by the region, Native American law, and whether the state had been a French or Spanish colony. Common law marriage was widely practiced in the western United States in the 1800s. Many scholars attribute this to the conditions of life on the frontier. There was a lack of religious officials available to perform ceremonies. Traveling was also difficult. Courts recognized common law marriage to protect women’s property. They also wanted to legitimize children. One could prove common law marriage with evidence of a stable relationship, cohabitation, and children. But by the end of the 19th century, many states began to emphasize the importance of marriage as an institution. At the time, there was concern for individuals who were too immature or mentally disabled for marriage.

In the early 1900s, some people had racial motivations to end common law marriage. They wanted to require marriage to prevent interracial marriages. The culture and economy of the frontier had also changed. Many states no longer saw common law marriage as a necessity. States also feared fraudulent claims under common marriage law. Today only 9 states and the District of Columbia recognize common law marriage. Arizona banned common law marriages in 1913.

(The above summary is from Ann Kirschner.)

Will Arizona recognize a common law marriage that was contracted in another state?

Yes. Arizona recognizes marriages that are valid by the laws of place where the marriage was contracted. That means if two persons lived together as husband and wife in another state that recognizes common law marriage, then they then move to Arizona, they will be considered married in Arizona.

Can You Legally File Joint Taxes as Married People?

If you live in Arizona, and you have a common law marriage that was established in another state, then you can legally file joint taxes with your spouse. This means that both spouses will be taxed jointly at the federal and state level.

If You Have a Dispute Involving a Common Law Marriage, Give Us a Call.

Our law firm helps people with all kinds of property and family disputes. If your situation is outside our practice area, we will refer you to a vetted, top-notch lawyer to advocate for you. Just give us a call at 602-443-4888. We’re here to help.





Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.