Nika Gholston, Esq.
Common Law Marriage in Alabama
As of January 01, 2017, common law marriage is no longer recognized in Alabama. Pursuant to AL Code Section 30-1-20, "No common-law marriage may be entered into in this state on or after January 1, 2017. An otherwise valid common-law marriage entered into before January 1, 2017, shall continue to be valid in this state."
Thus, no common law marriage entered into in the state of Alabama on or after January 1, 2017 will be recognized within the state. Only common law marriages entered into prior to this date still enjoy recognition.
In order for a common law marriage to be legally recognized in the state of Alabama, three requirements must generally be met:
1. Both parties must have the present legal capacity to marry.
2. The parties must have entered into a mutual agreement to enter into a permanent marriage.
3. There must be public recognition of the marital relationship and public assumption of marital duties and cohabitation.
It is up to the party seeking to have the common law marriage recognized to prove all of the elements listed above existed prior to January 1, 2017 in order to establish a common law marriage that will be recognized by the state of Alabama.
Once a common law marriage is established, the parties to that marriage are afforded the same rights as any other married couple, including the right to get a divorce.